AAP Rajasthan head believes he has been overlooked by top brass.
New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party was a dream that thousands of people breathed life into. Among them were three close friends — Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Kumar Vishwas.
As AAP turns five this month, it seems unlikely that the trio will ever be a cohesive group again. Recent developments indicate that the rift between poet-turned-politician Vishwas on one side, and chief minister Kejriwal and his deputy Sisodia on the other, has widened to an abyss.
Sources from the two camps believed the strain in the friendship has hit a nadir. Bitterness has reached a point where a détente seems unlikely, they said.
The party’s national council meeting held last week reflected this.
Mr Vishwas alleged that for the first time he was not among the speakers at the high-level meet.
“I thought only the Congress and the BJP were scared of me,” he later said, taking a dig at the AAP leadership.
The founder-members of the party, who participated in the anti-graft campaign that was the precursor to AAP, were known to be close friends. Mr Vishwas often fondly reminisced how key decisions over the formation of the party took place at his residence in Ghaziabad.
Mr Vishwas, who fought — and lost to — Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, has been upset with the leadership for some time now.
A section of AAP close to Mr Vishwas believed the rift had been caused by a “coterie” around Mr Kejriwal which, they claimed, was against Mr Vishwas, in charge of the Rajasthan unit of the party.
Mr Vishwas believes he has been overlooked by the top brass. One bone of contention is the tussle over a Rajya Sabha seat.
With its brute majority in the 67-member Delhi Legislative Assembly, AAP can send three people to the Upper House of Parliament. Mr Vishwas sees himself as a strong contender for one of the seats.
“But the leadership has apprehensions about that. What if Kumar starts attacking the party after becoming a Rajya Sabha member,” asked an AAP leader considered close to Mr Kejriwal.
Mr Vishwas is also troubled over the top leaders’ relationship with Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan. Recently, the party revoked the suspension of Mr Khan, who, after AAP’s debacle in the MCD elections, had accused Mr Vishwas of being an “agent of the RSS” and trying to split the party.
Mr Vishwas took strong exception to that and threatened he would quit the party if action was not taken against Mr Khan, who he described as just a “mask”.
Mr Khan was suspended, but the Vishwas camp said he was never out of favour. The Okhla legislator was included on crucial panels of the Delhi Legislative Assembly and Mr Kejriwal attended an iftar party organised by Khan, which was seen as a clear snub to Mr Vishwas.
The Kejriwal camp had its share of grievances against Mr Vishwas, whom they disparagingly referred to as a “part-time politician” because of his professional commitments as a poet.
It referred to a video in which Mr Vishwas was seen making a veiled attack on the Delhi government over alleged corruption before the MCD polls.