New Delhi: Differences in the AAP were wide open today with the leadership said to be preparing for a crackdown on dissidents like Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav at the National Executive meeting on Wednesday when they could be removed from the party's apex decision-making body Political Affairs Committee (PAC).
Indications of the party's hardline were available at a press conference by AAP's senior leader Sanjay Singh, who said accusing Yadav and Bhushan, although without naming them, of attempting to "remove" Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal from the post of party convener.
He also targeted party patron Shanti Bhushan for his comment in an interview that Kejriwal should be replaced by Yadav. "Someone from within the party, certain senior leaders are trying to remove Arvind Kejriwal from the post of National Convener, by targeting him and maligning the party," Singh told reporters here.
Without naming Bhushan and Yadav, he referred to statements and letters by senior leaders which amounted to making the party a butt of ridicule and a "joke of us". Expressing displeasure over the leaking of letters to the media, the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) member, said the issues could be discussed in the party forum rather than bringing them before the public through the media.
He announced that the party's national executive would meet on Wednesday and decide on all issues including the latest controversy over differences in the party.
Singh parried questions when repeatedly asked whether the two senior leaders would be removed from the Political Affairs Committee (PAC).
"I have only announced the date for the meeting. Have I announced the decisions that will be taken there," he said in reply to questions on whether action will be taken against the leaders. The Kejriwal camp is likely to come with a proposal at the Executive for the removal of Bhushan and Yadav from the PAC.
NE member and party leader from Haryana, Naveen Jaihind, who shares an uneasy relationship with Yadav, said he will moot a proposal to remove Yadav from the PAC. "I will introduce a proposal of removing Yadav from the PAC. He has conspired against our leader to remove him from the post of National Convenor.
"He (Yadav) had introduced a proposal to expel me from the party at the NE meeting in June last year but it was defeated by a majority," Jaihind, a staunch Kejriwal loyalist, told PTI.
Expressing displeasure over the leaking of letters to the media, the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) member, Singh said the issues could be discussed in the party forum rather than bringing them before the public through the media.
The Delhi unit, a group that swears allegiance to Kejriwal, too has come out strongly against Bhushan and Yadav. In a letter to party secretary Pankaj Gupta, party secretary Dilip Pandey termed it not a personality clash but a clash between a leader and a "bunch of opportunists". Sources close to Yadav have rejected the claims made by the Delhi unit.
Another leader close to Kejriwal said, "There is a strong possibility that we will introduce a proposal of removing Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan from the PAC. There is a certain way to on how the party should function." The leader added that the problems were "serious" in nature and situation has reached a point of "no return".
Crisis in the party intensified after Bhushan, in a letter to the national executive last week, said that the "one person -centric" campaign was making the party look like other parties and called for more "swaraj" within the organisation.
Along with Yadav, he also gave a joint letter to the national executive and demanded activation of an ethics and grievance committee. "One person-centric campaign, which was run during Delhi elections, is making our party look more and more like other conventional parties that are also one-person centric. The only difference being that we still claim that we are wedded to the principles of 'swaraj' while they don't," Bhushan had said in the letter.
Amid the ongoing rumbling within the AAP, senior party leader Yogendra Yadav today said all the stories on the crisis in the party are "imaginary" and it was time to work after the big victory in the polls and not indulge in "small acts".
He said in politics there should be difference of "opinion" and not "minds". Meanwhile, a section is still hopeful that the two camps reach a consensus and bury its hatches. "Although the situation is extremely volatile, we will see if anything can be done on this...if the two sides can mend their ways. We will use out good offices for this," said a party leader.