Though Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal chose to keep away, his will prevailed at the Aam Aadmi party national executive meeting on Thursday as the party’s founder members Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav were voted out of its political affairs committee (PAC).
The vote to keep out the party’s two senior leaders from its key decision making body was ultimately of a closer margin than many expected – eight members of the national executive voted to keep them in while 11 were in favour of them being out. The national executive also rejected Mr. Kejriwal’s decision, conveyed before the meeting started, to resign as the party’s national convenor.
A marathon six-hour meeting of the party’s leadership council at a resort near the Delhi Gurgaon border ended with Mr. Yadav and Mr. Bhushan emerging first to a sea of waiting mediapersons outside the gates. Both gave short, terse statements before quickly leaving.
“I will continue to be in AAP and do whatever responsibility the party gives me, Mr. Yadav said. “Members of the national executive have decided that Yogendra Yadav and me will no more be a part of PAC.”
Despite Mr. Kejriwal submitting his resignation, the second time in two weeks he has done so, the day had begun with talks of a possible resolution between the party’s two battling factions. When Mr. Yadav arrived at the venue, he told reporters that the conflict within the party was an ‘opportunity’ and that everything would be clear by evening.
AAP leader Ashish Khaitan, believed to be strongly in Mr. Kejriwal’s camp, had also taken down a tweet he had posted the previous day in which he had been sharply critical of the Bhushan family. According to sources within the party, members of Mr. Kejriwal’s camp first tried to get Mr. Bhushan and Mr. Yadav to resign from the PAC voluntarily, hoping to avoid the impression that they were being forced out. If they resigned voluntarily the solution was that Mr. Yadav would be made the state convenor of the AAP’s Maharashtra unit and Mr. Bhushan would head the party’s legal cell. Supporters of both leaders rejected the proposal and the two indicated that they wanted the national executive to vote on the issue.
Mr. Vishwas then tried to play mediator, taking Mr. Bhushan and Mr. Yadav into a separate room to try and reason with them. When this attempt failed, the national executive convened again in the early evening and a formal resolution was moved on whether the two should be removed from the PAC. Three members of the national executive were absent from the meeting and three abstained from voting.