There is one popular meme which shows AAP leaders Arvind Kejriwal, Yogendra Yadav, Manish Sisodia and Kumar Vishwas with the caption…
“Chaar bach gaye hai lekin party fir bhi baaki hai…” (Only four are left but the party still goes on… a play on a popular Bollywood song.) (Similar status messages also popped up when the AAP won just four Lok Sabha seats in the elections held in 2014.)
The Congress is a 129-year-old party and the Sangh Pariwar in one form or another has been around for 90 years so leaders coming and going for them really make no difference. Not so the Aam Aadmi Party which has been seeing anti-Kejriwal dissent right from its formation.
Captain Gopinath was one of the earliest critics of AAP so much so that other members said that he was never a member of the party in the first place! Such stands far from defending end up backfiring and severely affected AAP’s credibility.
However Madhu Bhandari was a confirmed founder member and she said, “The party has a mentality of a khap panchayat. There is no space for women. If the other women leaders have any self-respect, they will quit too. The party has changed for the weight of votes. They just want to win the elections.”
That formed the theme of criticisms in the months to come.
Vinod Binny was the first MLA to speak out.He was also rubbished by Kejriwal from the beginning and instead of being rehabilitated was ultimately expelled. He went ahead and even said that Kejriwal had duped the people.Binny has since then joined the BJP.
Shazia Ilmi bided her time but her finally joining the BJP also has dented AAP’s image. She attacked Kejriwal directly and accused him of betraying August Kranti leader Anna Hazare and being an opportunist.
Finally there is Prashant and Shanti Bhushan.Prashant got bad press with his stand over Kashmir and AFSPA. Shanti had written an article last year which questioned the AAP leadership which was denied at that time.
A similar interview has been made this time. Shanti Bhushan said that Kejriwal had gone astray and demanded his resignation. He also said that Kiran Bedi was a better choice for New Delhi Chief Ministership.
Anna Hazare refused to have anything to do with the Kejriwal after he formed the AAPand Baba Ramdev openly supported the BJP. Other sympathisers like General VK Singh joined the BJP. The latest entry of IAC member Kiran Bedi into the BJP is a major blow to Kejriwal.
Bedi is a former colleague of Kejriwal and he had offered her the CM’s post so he really can’t accuse her of not being qualified for the post, a big downer during campaigning. Her “desertion” has got to hurt.
Other leaders like Ashutosh and Somnath Bharti do not helpthe AAP’s image.They have ended end up being the worst PR agents for the party.There are too many videos of Kumar Vishwas floating around where he praises Modi and the BJP for him to be taken seriously.
Yogendra Yadav is probably the only other leader who matches up to Kejriwal. However you may remember the whole resignation drama some time back which clearly shows how uncomfortable he is with Kejriwal at the top.
Of course one of the “desertions” considered by Kejriwal to be a big one is by the mainstream media. The media loved Kejriwal but when he came with one goof-up after another, they had no choice but show stories that showed him in bad light. They seem to be backing him again.
He has also been slapped and AAP conferences have been attacked. But curiously a lot of the “attackers” turn out to be ex-IAC or ex-AAP. More than the Congress and BJP, Kejriwal seems to be attacked by his own people the most and is increasingly isolated.
So in the end the AAP is all about Kejriwal, so much for ending the dictatorial nature of politics like Congress-Dynasty, ADMK-Jayalalithaa, DMK-Karunanidhi, BSP-Mayawati etc. Kejriwal’s “I, me and myself” image has really dented the AAP.
In fact another joke goes that Kejriwal will be left alone in the end and even he will join the BJP.
You can be anything in politics. Hated, hounded or jailed. You can still survive. But don’t become a joke.Then political death is certain. That is exactly what is happening to Kejriwal.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi learnt this the hard way.
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.