The stunning comeback of the Aam Aadmi Party in the Indian capital of Delhi had its spill over effect in the neighbouring Nepal's capital as well. The so-called Naya Shakti, planned to be styled after the nascent outfit of India, appeared to get a new lease of life. Debate on the need for a new force resurfaced after a year of hiatus. But if latest indications from Delhi are any indication, the enthusiasts in Kathmandu will have little to cheer. After the rout in the Lok Sabha elections, internal rifts in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) created waves.
The blame game dragged leaders like Yogendra Yadav and others to the dirty battleground. Despite rumours that some leaders could quit the party over the infighting, the party by and large stayed firm and united. Now, not even one month into its resounding victory in Delhi assembly elections, the reformist party is witnessing something similar. And this time, the situation is much more worrying for the Delhi Chief Minister’s party. The internal conflict between members of the party came into light when senior leaders like Yadav and Prashant Bhusan complained of lack of inner party democracy. While this was brushed off as a healthy exercise to promote discussion within the party, it escalated to such an extent that some of the leaders accused Bhusan and Yadav of seeking to topple Kejriwal from the office of the national convenor.
Having risen like a phoenix on grounds of clean politics, the rifts could send a message that the party is no different from the other lot. Despite Kejriwal’s attempts to stay away from the controversy, the infighting could tarnish the image of the party beyond repair. Some have already begun to accuse the AAP of not abiding by its principles it had peddled. A column on a popular blog even compared AAP with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party where decision making is limited to an ‘authoritarian’ party head. The blog mentions that the personality cult surrounding Kejriwal makes him a narcissist like Mayawati. A comment from the user says that AAP is slowly turning out to be like Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress which humiliates dissenters, referring to speculations about Yadav and Bhusan being thrown out of the Political Affairs Committee.
Yogendra Yadav, who was a mastermind behind AAP’s victory in Delhi, is seen as an intellectual face of the party. He also acted as a crisis manager to reply to volleys of questions posed by the media over many decisions of the party. His absence can sway the party’s course of direction. This is even more worrying given the fact that it has only recently come to power in Delhi. A fall-out between Yadav and the party would mean that a lot of plans and policies promised by AAP during the state elections might not get the proper attention for their effective implementation. Not only will the party’s performance take a beating, it is also likely to hurt its long term ambitions. It could dampen their hopes of contesting elections in neighbouring states and in the next Lok Sabha elections as well.
The bickering is also going to give a huge opportunity to rival parties, mainly the BJP and Congress to pounce upon AAP. The two parties, which have already accused AAP of misleading people by playing tricks with figures while announcing 50 per cent cut in power tariff and free water scheme, have been careful observant of the whole issue but their attack is expected anytime. Such a debacle would make matters worse Kejriwal’s government even before it completes its customary 100-day honeymoon period. And those looking upon AAP for inspiration to launch a similar outfit in Nepal will have to think twice before jumping into the Naya Shakti rhetoric bandwagon as it more likely to be stillborn.