Kumar Vishwas' refusal to toe party line may be attempt to project himself as more credible leader than Arvind Kejriwal

While several Aam Aadmi Party leaders including Arvind Kejriwal have issued apologies in defamation cases, Kumar Vishwas has refused to do so. Vishwas' defiance is seen as his attempt to appear as a more credible leader in the AAP than Kejriwal himself. However, this move is unlikely to yield such a result.

On Monday, Arvind Kejriwal, along with four other AAP leaders, have apologised to Arun Jaitley for their statements alleging financial irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association, in which the Union finance minister served as the president.

“I have recently discovered that the information and the imputations contained therein are unfounded and unwarranted and I was clearly misinformed into making these allegations,” stated the letters submitted by AAP leaders.

Arun Jaitley had filed the defamation case in the Delhi High Court against six AAP leaders namely Arvind Kejriwal, Kumar Vishwas, Raghav Chadha, Dipak Bajpai and Sanjay Singh.

All of them, except Vishwas, have apologised to Jaitley.

 Kumar Vishwas refusal to toe party line may be attempt to project himself as more credible leader than Arvind Kejriwal

File images of Kumar Vishwas and Arvind Kejriwal. AFP/PTI

This is the fourth case where an apology has been tendered by Arvind Kejriwal to do away with defamation cases filed against him. In the first instance, Kejriwal sought pardon from Shiromani Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia and in the second case he tendered an apology to former BJP president Nitin Gadkari. He has also apologised to Congress leader Kapil Sibal's son Amit for making allegations of corruption against him.

Ajay Maken, the president of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee, vehemently criticised the AAP for its style of politics and said, “The AAP came to power only by levelling accusations against other parties. But now when they are in power, they are saying that all those allegations were wrong. This is a very wrong kind of politics.”

The AAP, as a policy, has decided to get rid of dozens of defamation cases filed against its leaders by way of apologising to the complainants. This move has not gone down well with many party workers.

Kumar Vishwas, who has already been sidelined in his party after his recent rift with Kejriwal, has taken this opportunity to emerge as a more credible leader than the Delhi chief minister.

He was quoted by The Times of India as saying, “Kejriwal has damaged his credibility due to his apologies tendered to different people against whom he once leveled allegations. It has left the party workers demoralised, because whatever the national leaders say echoes in different units of the party across the country.”

His aide Prabudh Kumar said, "He (Vishwas) will not apologise and will pursue the cases that have been filed against him.”

Vishwas’ refusal to toe the party line may lead him to fight defamation cases for a long time. In the long run, it might turn out to be a battle not worth fighting.

Legal battles in defamation cases are arduous. The apologies made by his party colleagues would only make things more difficult for him in the court as the apology letters signed by them may be used by complainants. They can contend that the letters prove that the allegations of the AAP leaders were baseless.

Even if Kumar Vishwas manages to win the cases, it is unlikely bring any change in his fortunes. Kejriwal is the only leader in the AAP whose face as the chief ministerial candidate brought victory twice for the party in the Delhi Assembly elections. As Kejriwal is the only tried and tested leader in AAP, most of his party MLAs swear allegiance to him.

The situation may have been different in the period shortly after Anna Hazare's movement in 2011. At that time, the political careers of both leaders were at a nascent stage. At such a time, Vishwas may have benefited from any loss of face for Kejriwal.

However, a loss of face for Kejriwal now will only benefit Opposition parties in Delhi, rather than anyone within the AAP.

Similarly, Kumar’s attempt to pitch himself as a substitute to Kejriwal would have become successful if a good section of the party leaders and workers across the nation had rallied behind him.

This is not the case, and it is unlikely to be that way. Delhi is the only state where the AAP is in power and hence, the government there is the only source of pride for party members. Thus, deriding the Delhi chief minister is hardly an option for them.

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Updated Date: Apr 03, 2018 20:32:04 IST


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