Arvind Kejriwal pacifies Kumar Vishwas, but can he calm the anger brewing within AAP?

Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, probably had to swallow their pride before driving to Kumar Vishwas' home in Vasundhara, Ghaziabad, on Wednesday night, to pacify their long-time friend and party associate. They perhaps had no other option.

Vishwas' threat that he would decide his next course of action within a day seemed real. This was the most serious crisis that the Aam Admi Party (AAP) had faced in its less than five years of existence. The party was on the brink of a split.

Firstpost accessed a series of messages that were posted on multiple AAP WhatsApp groups, which throw an interesting insight into what was the conversation going on within the ranks of AAP. Most of these conversation were in Hindi questioning the supremo, the personality cult and the concerns raised by Vishwas regarding the functioning of the party. One particular set of messages stand out which begins with "chalo Dilli" (March to Delhi) and says, "If Vishwas leaves this pious movement (AAP) then the fight which had began from Jantar Mantar will yet again reach Jantar Mantar. Date: 7 May, time: 11 am till indefinite period, place: Jantar Mantar Delhi." It further adds, "If Vishwas leaves this movement, then all friends and colleagues will have to reach Jantar Mantar on 7 May. You talk to your local organisational set up and fix your programme. We all will have to leave our other work aside to save the nation. If there is no party left, if there is no hope left, what would you do with discipline. You have to let go of discipline to save the nation. This fight is not for Kumar or Arvind, this fight is for India's future."

File image of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. AFP

File image of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. AFP

Another message talks about the goodness and the usefulness of Vishwas as a leader and the value he brings to AAP as one of the founding fathers of the party. It goes on to add, "He kept himself away from all kinds of dirt and filth of politics. He understood all kinds of conspiracies that were hatched against him but dealt with them patiently. He was disappointed. But he kept enthusiastically working for the party. He gathered strength from the affection of the party which he had built and sweated for. But in the current situation, when ugly political games were played against him, he suffered and after running of patience, he summoned the courage to speak out the truth. Friends, please tell if the questions raised by him, were wrong. Consider what did he say. First, power be restored and the trust lost be reposed in them. Second, we must not forget the values on the basis of which the party was created and was liked by people. Third, the ability to spend money should not be the basis for distribution of party ticket. Fourth, Ganesh parikrama karne ya karwane wale se bache (beware of people who take shortcuts). Fifth, don't impose your voice on people, instead be the people's voice."

Yet another message takes on the argument articulated by Sisodia and Sanjay Singh that Vishwas should have spoken on the party forum, says, Vishwas is hardly a fool to raise these issues on appropriate forums but some of the so-called experienced leaders rubbished his voice. That resulted in Vishwas taking up these issues in a disciplined manner on a public platform so that it reaches the workers.

The message also said that the party must find the person who was responsible for driving away so many talented people from the party. Instead of doing that, the party leaders are after Kumar's life. The messages then go on to explain how a coterie has developed around Kejriwal. They have to ensure that the sacrifice of the workers is not wasted. There is still time for Kejriwal to re-establish his credentials of an honest leader. All must vow to throw the brokers out of the party. It's time for course correction, else senior leaders would repent later.

There are a number of messages that sarcastically refer to Kejriwal, Sisodia and other leaders blaming the EVM for the defeat in Punjab and Goa Assembly and Delhi municipal polls. One message questions if EVM was so bad and manipulated then how come some candidates won. It says party lost as some of its workers did not come out to vote.

Sisodia's counter to Vishwas that AAP was founded by lakhs of workers, not by three-four individuals, one message says, true the party was founded by lakhs of workers, but only six-seven leaders who sit and talk behind close doors.

Some messages are very hard hitting, typical to AAP's style.

After speaking to some AAP leaders, including a senior functionary who was privy to the unfolding developments, this writer on Wednesday had learnt that before Kejriwal drove to Vishwas's residence, he had realised that the script had gone awry and things were spiralling out of hand. His visit to his friend and in-house critic was guided by realpolitik and politically prudent reasons. It was the need of the hour for Kejriwal to mollify Vishwas at whatever cost and save his face, keep his party united and buy time for now.

A  party leader said though a peace formula has been announced but what has been offered to Vishwas is only a consolation prize. According to him, Kejriwal and his team have opened a can of worms and he has shown the way how a party leader and worker can say what he wants to say without really violating party discipline. He says another round of public spat could be coming soon — on the announcement of Election Commission's verdict — on fate of 21 MLAs accused of holding an office of profit.

Updated Date: May 04, 2017 20:06 PM

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