NEW DELHI — The Aam Aadmi Party's bitter factionalism just got exacerbated, perhaps irrevocably, as senior leaders of the party today made damning allegations against founding leaders Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav, and Shanti Bhushan, detailing how they had worked to defeat the party in the run up to Delhi elections.
Last week, Bhushan and Yadav had been expelled from the Political Advisory Committee of the party.
In a statement by senior party leaders Manish Sisodia, Gopal Rai, Pankaj Gupta, and Sanjay Singh, they said that the three senior AAP leaders tried everything possible to ensure AAP did not win Delhi elections and Arvind Kejriwal's name was sullied in the process.
AAP won the Delhi elections in a landslide victory, pushing out both Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party in the race.
According to the statement, Sisodia and other leaders claimed that AAP had elected to keep details of Yadav and Bhushan's removal from the national executive under wraps so as to prevent maligning them. However, citing media reports that portrayed their removal as unfair and irresponsible, the leaders claimed that this had created a false narrative around the party's decision, and even AAP volunteers were beginning to question it as a result.
"While everyone was persevering to help AAP win Delhi elections, these three leaders were trying everything in their might to defeat the party." Sisodia and others have claimed that Prashant Bhushan urged volunteers from other states not to come to Delhi to help in the run-up to the elections, claiming he wouldn't be campaigning either. According to the statement, Bhushan told volunteers that AAP needed to be defeated in Delhi to teach Kejriwal a lesson.
"While everyone was persevering to help AAP win Delhi elections, these three leaders were trying everything in their might to defeat the party."
In the statement, Sisodia and others also claimed that Bhushan stopped people from donating to the party and that when Ashish Khetan called Bhushan two weeks before the February elections, inviting him for the Lokpal and Swaraj Delhi dialogue, he refused to campaign and said that he in fact wanted AAP to lose the Delhi elections. "He told Khetan that he hoped that AAP would only get 20-22 seats, and that leadership could change only if the party lost," according to the statement.
Throughout the elections, Bhushan allegedly threatened to call a press conference that would ruin AAP's Delhi campaign, according to the party statement. He knew that AAP and BJP were bitter rivals, and if a senior leader would speak out against the party then AAP would lose their winning edge, according to the statement.
Bhushan retaliated saying the "whole truth" would come out soon.
"Time has come for the country to know the whole truth about the matter and the truth will come out soon. It's good that those things which were being said through other people, allegations that were being made are now being openly made by some front line leaders of the party," said Bhushan.
"AAP was founded on high principles of transparency, accountability, inner party democracy and 'swaraj', and I will continue to fight for it," he added.
Sisodia and others have claimed that they pleaded with Bhushan and his father Shanti Bhushan not to discredit the party, and about 10 senior leaders from AAP visited Bhushan's house on three consecutive days to reason with him. "When they should have been campaigning for the party, our leaders were instead pleading with these leaders," according to the statement.
Meanwhile Yadav accused the party leadership of forcing Delhi MLAs to sign papers against him. "They should not put pressure on members to speak out against us or force Delhi MLAs to sign papers against us."
Yadav said the party's internal Lokpal can probe any allegations against any member. "In this case since the Lokpal has already written a letter expressing his intent to investigate so let him do that. Truth shall prevail," the AAP leader said.
I welcome the statement by 4 colleagues. Begins the possibility of open, transparent dialogue. Truth shall prevail.— Yogendra Yadav (@AapYogendra) March 10, 2015
Hope this statement ends all slander, planting of allegations. Hope no more coercion of party functionaries and Delhi MLAs on this issue.— Yogendra Yadav (@AapYogendra) March 10, 2015
Hope PB and my response will also be duly publicised by the party media. Hope party's website will be opened for all volunteers responses.— Yogendra Yadav (@AapYogendra) March 10, 2015
Sisodia and others also claimed that AAP has proof showing Yadav tried to tarnish Kejriwal's image by getting negative media reports published. Citing an article that appeared in The Hindu in August 2014, the AAP leaders said that Yadav had "plotted" this, and that a few other editors from the media had revealed that Yadav would call them for off-the-record briefings during the run-up to Delhi elections to disseminate negative information on Kejriwal.
AAP has also claimed that AVAM, a dissenting group claiming to be former volunteers that came up with anti-party claims on the eve of elections, was propped up by BJP and that both Prashant and Shashi Bhushan had openly supported them, discrediting AAP.
Sisodia also alleged that just a few days before the Delhi election, Shashi Bhushan said that he had more faith in BJP and its chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi, than in Kejriwal. This stunned AAP workers, who wondered why he didn't join BJP in that case, according to the statement.
"It's sad that when most AAP members were working hard, our senior leaders were trying to weaken the party and vying for its defeat," according to the statement. "After thinking/reflecting on these issues, we removed both Yadav and Bhushan from the PAC."
(with agency inputs)