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AAP split over RS nominations: Arvind Kejriwal has sparked a crisis of credibility by marginalising Kumar Vishwas and Ashutosh

By nominating Sushil Gupta, Narayan Das Gupta and Sanjay Singh for three Rajya Sabha seats from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has pushed his party into a crisis of credibility.

File image of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. Getty images

File image of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. Getty images

A person's ideology, dedication to party work, oratorical skills and profile is seemingly irrelevant when being considered for something as important as being sent to Parliament on a party ticket. Instead, selection seems to hinge on extraneous factors and the whims of the party chief.

It should be noted that Kejriwal’s search for Rajya Sabha MPs on an AAP ticket began with the likes of former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan and former Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and ended with Sushil Gupta, a turncoat moneybags from the Congress and ND Gupta, a chartered accountant.

The other side of the story — as narrated by Kejriwal’s deputy in the government and in the party, Manish Sisodia — is equally interesting. This is what he said at the press conference held after the parliamentary affairs committee meeting where Kejriwal put his signature and seal to the decision to send two unknowns to the Upper House of Parliament.

Sisodia said the party offered the Rajya Sabha seat to "18 big shots". Names to be reckoned with in the fields of economics, media, judiciary, law and academics. However, they all politely refused. The reason he ascribed to their refusal to what would otherwise be an irresistible post-retirement offer to most people in that list of 18 or outside is even more noteworthy: They had earned an image after years of hard work and they wouldn’t like that to be spoiled by associating themselves with the AAP, even if it meant a berth in Parliament.

Which effectively means that the AAP has suffered a crisis of credibility. That these individuals did not want to be seen as pillion riders to Kejriwal. There were even reports that two aging BJP discards, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, were among those who refused Kejriwal. With his latest act of selecting the unknown outsiders Gupta and Gupta, Kejriwal further deepened that crisis of credibility, both without and within the party.

That the likes of Kumar Vishwas and Ashutosh, who have been associated with AAP since the days of the Anna Hazare movement, and are considered among the most articulate and outspoken in the party ranks, were dumped to accommodate two Guptas says a lot about the way Kejriwal runs his party and going forward, the way the party intends to structure itself.

The way Kejriwal has acted suggests he considers himself more like an owner of a private company than as a “convener” — as he has been designated — of a “democratic” party which originated from a public movement.

On Tuesday, Firstpost reported how Sushil Gupta and ND Gupta were nominated at the cost of Vishwas and Ashutosh. The report also detailed how, over a period of time, Kejriwal became determined to marginalise Vishwas.

Now, getting back to Sisodia’s official briefing, where he said there were 18 other names on the list, that a lot of brainstorming took place within party and that there was a view that persons from within the party should be named for the coveted Rajya Sabha seats.

So far so good. Sisodia then added that Kejriwal wanted people to be brought in from the outside for the Rajya Sabha nominations and that if the big wigs approached were unwilling, the party ought to consider other names which were not on such a pedestal, but were in sync with party ideology.

Sisodia’s statement is contradictory. Firstly, the AAP always claimed that it was a party of volunteers where everyone was equal. That it was so democratic, it would go to the people before taking any decision. The deputy chief minister did not mention who all were involved during the brainstorming sessions when the names were finalised.

Was it limited to Kejriwal and Sisodia? Or were Satyendra Jain and some other leaders also involved? From Sisodia’s statement it's clear that the view that those within the party should be given the opportunity for a Rajya Sabha berth was overlooked and only Kejriwal's opinion mattered.

And second, how did they suddenly discover that Sushil Gupta and ND Gupta were in sync with the AAP "ideology"? Sisodia did not reveal that. Sushil was, for long, associated with the Congress. His estimated net worth is Rs 164 crore. He fought as the Congress candidate from Motinagar during the 2013 Delhi Assembly election. Against the AAP.

Sushil resigned from the Congress last month and joined the AAP, but since he'd never been a name to reckon with in city politics, nobody cared. Sushil must have either received enlightenment akin to what Buddha received under the Bodhi tree or experienced an Albert Einstein eureka moment to realise that he embodied the AAP's ideology, either real of professed. Remember, the AAP was borne on the plank of fighting the Congress' corruption and misrule.

This tweet from Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken is very revealing:

An AAP insider, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said: "It has been proven today, yet again, that the AAP is not the same party which originated from Ramlila Maidan. Kejriwal has completely deviated from what he professed and promised.”

Updated Date: Jan 03, 2018 18:15 PM

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