Battling infighting, the AAP on Tuesday decided to take steps to douse the flames of dissent by reaching out to senior leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan besides expanding the party in other states, one of the contentious issues behind the rift.
A meeting of AAP’s Political Affairs Committee, the party’s top decision-making body, held at Kejriwal’s Kaushambi residence also decided to enhance the involvement of its volunteers in its decision-making process.
AAP sources said Kejriwal and other senior leaders expressed concern over the party’s image getting hit following the bitter fight between warring factions that had come out in the open in the last two weeks.
“We have already started working to normalise the situation in the party. We have taken a step forward as we have already met Yadav,” senior party leader Sanjay Singh told reporters after the two-hour-long meeting.
Although he dodged questions on Bhushan’s refusal to meet Ashish Khetan saying “he has not refused to talk”.
Over the past few weeks, AAP has been embroiled in internal turmoil with leaders from both the camps making accusations and levelling allegations against each other.
Singh said the PAC has also decided to expand the party in other states, an issue over which Yadav had come under fire as he had favoured AAP spreading its wings in some other states.
“The party will expand. Will work to strengthen our organisation in other states. A decision on which states party should contest elections in will be taken only after looking at political capacity and leadership in those states.
Giving major thrust on volunteers, Singh said that the party will involve them in the decision-making process and a committee will be set up for that purpose.
“The party will prepare a list of active volunteers in the country. They will be given importance in the decision-making in the organisation and we have also decided to form a committee on how to increase volunteers participation,” he said.
The efforts for rapprochement by both the sides picked momentum following Kejriwal’s return here last night after 12 days of naturopathy treatment in Bengaluru for his chronic cough and diabetes.
Senior leaders AAP leaders Sanjay Singh, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh and Ashish Khetan—all known to be Kejriwal loyalists—met Yadav late last night and held discussions on several contentious issues. Both the camps termed the discussions as “positive”.
A senior leader said that the Kejriwal had instructed them to open channels of talk as he was “upset with the party getting a bad name” over the conflict.
Sources in the party said the meeting with Yadav was an attempt to “break the ice”. They said the discussions continued until 3 AM.
“The meeting was preliminary in nature. Prashantji (Bhushan) had already sent a message yesterday. There was a lot of bad blood, so at least there was a meeting, which itself is a positive sign. We all had not spoken to each other since the March 4 meeting.
“But still there are issues on both the sides which need to be sorted out. However, it would be too early to comment on how things will pan out in coming days,” said an AAP leader.
Confirming the developments, Yadav said talks had started in the right earnest and asked supporters to have faith on the prospects of further improvement.
He said that the party had bounced back many times in the past even after a section of people wrote its “obituary”.
“The talks will be taken ahead. I am maintaining from the first day that a lot of hope is associated with this party. Last few days ‘manthan’ have produced a lot of ‘visha’. It’s time for ‘amrita’,” Yadav said.
Kejriwal and Yadav also briefly interacted at a city court today where they were summoned in a defamation case.
Yesterday, Yadav and Bhushan had extended an olive branch to Kejriwal by seeking a meeting with him and the AAP chief today responded by saying will meet them “soon”.
However, Bhushan snubbed Khetan by refusing to meet him and declined to meet anyone except Kejriwal to sort out their differnces.
“He (Khetan) had asked for a meeting this morning but I responded saying meeting you would not serve any purpose and I would like to meet Arvind,” Bhushan told PTI.
Bhushan added that Kejriwal told him he was busy until the Budget session next week and will meet him thereafter.
In the party’s last National Executive on March 4, Yadav and Bhushan were voted out from the PAC over accusations of working against the party and trying to malign Kejriwal’s image.