Compromise in AAP proves all that Kumar Vishvas wanted was some attention
Aam Aadmi Party National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal appeared to have succeeded in resolving a major standoff within the party, following a key meeting of the party's Political Affairs Committee on 3 May.
In keeping with the compromise that the meeting arrived at, a sulking Kumar Vishvas was given more nominal powers and Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan, against whom he was railing, was suspended from the party.
It isn't clear whether Khan was suspended for a limited period or indefinitely. If the suspension is temporary, then its a small cost to pay to resolve a feud that was threatening to spiral into something big.
However, if it is anything akin to expulsion then that could be damaging decision as it would essentially amount to AAP losing a seat in the source of all its power, the Delhi Assembly.
As for Vishvas, he was appointed poll in-charge of Rajasthan, which is not a position that will suddenly make him very powerful and important in the party. Elections in Rajasthan are far away as the state is scheduled to go to polls only by the end of 2018.
Also, considering the way AAP has performed in recent polls on its home ground in Delhi, it is not clear with how much enthusiasm will the party contest subsequent assembly elections in other states.
The need to feel important
The significance of this compromise also lies in the fact that the Kumar Vishvas saga had stretched on for too long and was hurting AAP at a time when the party needed to get down to some serious house-repair work. The party had just failed to dislodge BJP from the city's municipal bodies and lost an assembly by-poll on home ground to BJP. Funds have dried up and the morale of the volunteer-force is at an all-time low.
What can be worse at such a point than a factional fight within party ranks, a founder leader publicly sulking and rumours about no less than 30 MLAs leaving the party? AAP and Kejriwal himself really wanted to placate Vishvas and there couldn't have been a clearer evidence of that than the party chief's visit to Vishvas' residence last night.
Appointing him in-charge of a state and suspending Khan were further concessions accorded to him. However, the fact that Vishvas has settled for a largely nominal reward indicates that all he wanted was just a bit of importance.
His views on AAP's mistakes were in any case largely endorsed by Kejriwal, who stood solidly behind him even when Khan accused him of being a BJP agent conspiring to split the party. Rumours of Vishvas all set to quit AAP and join BJP have been proved to be idle speculation. He wouldn't leave AAP so easily because in which other party will he get this kind of importance? In which other party will the party chief walk up to his residence to placate him?
Not the end of story
The party released a picture of all its top leaders after the crucial PAC meeting, a family picture of sorts meant to give out an “all is well” again message.
जय हिंद । After the meeting . pic.twitter.com/I3HRgPuoNw— Vikas Yogi (@vikaskyogi) May 3, 2017
However, this is not likely to be the end of this saga. Khan is an MLA with considerable following and his suspension will have repercussions. In an indication of a thumbs down to today's decisions by AAP's admirers, author and AAP enthusiast Krishan Partap Singh announced on twitter that he too was giving up the party's primary membership.
Well, I did too. So going by this precedent, which must apply equally to all, I hereby resign my AAP membership. Good luck to AAP & AAPians. https://t.co/xTM8sNBs8E— Krishan Partap Singh (@RaisinaSeries) May 3, 2017
AAP also announced that a three-member committee comprising of party leaders Pankaj Gupta, Atishi Marlena and Ashutosh will look into Khan’s allegations against Vishwas. This means that when the committee will submit its report, the issue will once again be back in focus.
Also, this feud has indicated that there are at least two clear camps in the party now that are broadly pro-Vishvas and anti-Vishvas. The camps have been pacified for now, but there is no certainty that the rupture will not show up again in the near future.