BJP vs AAP: How CBI's action and Kumar Vishvas' dissatisfaction are two sides of the same coin
Less than a month after the establishment of an uneasy truce within AAP, infighting among party leaders has once again come out in the open.
Former chief of the party's Delhi unit, Dilip Pandey, took on Kumar Vishvas over the latter's alleged soft-approach towards BJP and Vishvas replied with a cryptic Facebook post in the form of a poem.
Ironically, at the heart of the controversy is the position that Vishvas was entrusted with as a part of the peace deal brokered with him last month.
He was made in-charge of the party's affairs in Rajasthan and it is his statements to Rajasthan volunteers that have made him the target of attack by the party's faces in Delhi.
Addressing volunteers on 10 June, he reportedly told them, among other things, that in the run-up to Assembly polls in Rajasthan, AAP's campaign will not involve attacking Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.
Interestingly, he chose not to spell out that the same decorum would not be observed for the Congress and its leaders.
War of words
Vishvas himself hit out at Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit for the latter's comments against the Army chief.
Vishvas reportedly called Dikshit a 'bad product' of the Congress brand of politics and said he had the same kind of sympathy for Dikshit's mother, former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, that he had for Sonia Gandhi.
It is this statement over which Pandey took Vishvas on, tweeting a question along with a picture of the latter. In the tweet, posted on 14 June, Pandey asked Vishvas why does he refrain from speaking against Raje while abusing Congress leaders at the same time?
भैया, आप कांग्रेसियों को ख़ूब गाली देते हो, पर कहते हो कि राजस्थान में वसुंधरा के ख़िलाफ़ नहीं बोलेंगे? ऐसा क्यों?🤔https://t.co/jKGz3IHded— Dilip K. Pandey (@dilipkpandey) June 14, 2017
Vishvas, interestingly, tweeted out a question to Raje on the poor condition of roads in Rajasthan, about three hours after Pandey's allegation of going soft on her.
The poet-politician's longer response came much later in the day through a post on his Facebook page.
He posted a poem by the famous Hindi poet and writer Dharamvir Bharati that loosely translates into “I am a broken wheel of the chariot, but do not throw me away”.
Many have speculated that the post indicates that Vishvas might be feeling isolated in AAP.
That Pandey's tweet was not a solitary spark was confirmed on 15 June, when another senior Delhi-based leader in the party, Deepak Bajpai, sent out several tweets with an indirect dig at Vishvas.
The latest one, posted on 15 June, carries a picture of a hotel room and says that the party is looking for “that” leader who stayed in a “beach-view room at a five-star hotel” in Goa during campaigning for the recently held Assembly polls.
वैसे पार्टी उस नेता को ढूंढ रही है जो गोवा में प्रचार के दौरान 5 स्टार होटेल JW Marriott के बीच व्यू रूम में रुक था। pic.twitter.com/swkNB76hq5— Deepak Bajpai (@BajpaiDeepak) June 15, 2017
The tweet was a dig at one of the several of Vishvas' commandments for the Rajasthan campaign, a directive to central party leaders visiting the state to stay in homes of local party workers, not in hotels and farmhouses.
This particular observation has riled many AAP leaders who have been pointing out ever since Vishvas' Rajasthan speech that party leaders, in any case, do not stay in hotels and farmhouses.
Will never forgive @ashutosh83B for calling people to Goa & making them stay in dormitories in heat & humidity— Nagendar Sharma (@sharmanagendar) June 14, 2017
Bajpai, recently appointed AAP's national treasurer, appears to be alleging that Vishvas is, in fact, the only party leader who stays at five-star hotels on his trips to states for campaigning.
ढोंग बंद करें। कार्यकर्ताओं को बदनाम करना बंद करो। अपने गिरेबान में झांको पहले। जरा भी शर्म है तो पहले जवाब दो। https://t.co/xOTMQ2hJyS— Deepak Bajpai (@BajpaiDeepak) June 15, 2017
.पॉइंट नंबर 12 में करेक्शन कर दें अपनी सुविधा के अनुसार अब, होटल फार्महाउस के पॉइंट में। पार्टी के लिए खपने वाले वालंटियर्स का अपमान बंद हो. https://t.co/0E3W0Ibkn5— Deepak Bajpai (@BajpaiDeepak) June 15, 2017
अगर ढोंग सामने आया हो तो बाज आएं अगर सही किया तो राजस्थान में अब 5 स्टार होटल्स में रुक के दिखाएँ। पार्टी वालंटियर्स से ढोंग नहीं चलेगा।— Deepak Bajpai (@BajpaiDeepak) June 15, 2017
Why Vishvas continues to be in AAP
It is clear that a large number of people who matter in AAP continue to be critical of Vishvas and the latter's Rajasthan speech has only confirmed their beliefs about him. But what do the top decision-makers in the party feel about Vishvas?
Does that mean that their attacks are backed by Kejriwal and Sisodia?
It may be recalled that well-placed sources in AAP had recently told Catch that Vishvas and former water minister Kapil Mishra were conspiring to split AAP, at the behest of the BJP.
Mishra was suspended from the party's primary membership, but no action was taken against Vishvas. In fact, disciplinary action was taken against Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan who had called Vishvas a “BJP agent” in no unclear terms.
However, the party's action against Khan was compensated for by prompt elevation in the Delhi Assembly, also controlled by AAP, as chairperson of at least two committees. Also, Sisodia visited Khan's residence soon after his suspension.
On 15 June, Kejriwal also attended an Iftar party organised by Khan. For all his tantrums, Vishvas got only token victories in the form of a visit to his residence by Kejriwal and the charge of the party's poll campaign in Rajasthan.
It appears that AAP wants to keep Vishvas within its fold but doesn't want him to get settled too comfortably. The senior leadership of the party possibly wants Vishvas to know that he is always on notice.
It is difficult to say for how long will this strategy sustain, but for now neither is Vishvas saying anything about leaving the party nor is the party talking about sacking him.
The link between AAP's internal & external problems
It is unfortunate for AAP that it appears to be caught in factional fights at a time when it is facing one volley after another from the BJP, through various arms of the union government.
The CBI suddenly landed at Sisodia's residence on 16 June, purportedly to question him on an alleged scam in organising a social media campaign.
Calling it a raid inspired by BJP's vendetta, AAP denied that there was a scam.
Before this, AAP was slapped with a fine of Rs 27 lakh by the Public Works Department of the Delhi Government.
The fine was reportedly authorised by the office of Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijjal because the PWD believes AAP is running its party office at a Rouse Avenue bungalow by occupying it in an unauthorised manner.
AAP has said what is this if not vendetta, given that BJP and Congress have multiple offices in the city.
It is clear that BJP is hell bent on forcing AAP into submission through force as well as under-hand tricks.
It is using central agencies to trouble AAP from outside and at the same time, is also trying to destabilise the party from within by engineering revolts and factionalism.
CBI's action and Vishvas's dissatisfaction are two sides of the same coin.