Tomorrow’s news today: Kerjiwal’s AAP headed for yet another split
The Aam Aadmi Party may be headed for yet another split. The outbreak of hostilities between the Kumar Vishwas--Kapil Mishra faction and the dominant Arvind Kejriwal group is set to end with the exit of a number of AAP leaders, including a couple of Delhi MLAs. The break might come early next year when the AAP is in place to win three seats in the Rajya Sabha due to its overwhelming numbers in the Delhi Assembly, but the internal turmoil is already beginning to show.
Recriminations between various leaders will surface further in the coming weeks as the next round of Rajya Sabha election comes near. Kejriwal’s paranoia and controlling nature makes it difficult for anyone with a sense of self-respect to stay on in the party. A large number of MLAs feel suffocated due to the vice-like group exercised by the Kejriwal loyalists, which for all practical purposes means he and his deputy Manish Sisodia, the two NGO entrepreneur-partners before they enlisted the simpleton Anna Hazare to launch their own political careers.
the provisions of the anti-defection law prevent the dissidents from challenging the leadership. As a result, a host of RS aspirants, among them a couple of former journalists, are lying low, with their mouths tightly shut for fear of annoying the supreme boss. Should they fail to get the RS nomination, they too can be expected to join the anti-Kejriwal group.
After having seen off the likes of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, Kejriwal is now plotting the exit of another AAP founder. A Hindi poet, Vishwas, is seen with great suspicion by the paranoid Kejriwal. In the coming weeks Vishwas might find himself ousted from the party. Sensing his growing marginalization in the one-leader party, a defiant Vishwas has already launched a broadside against the dominant faction, accusing it of denying him a chance to address the recent national council meeting of the party. More fireworks can be expected as inner tensions and turmoil in AAP mounts closer to the RS elections early next year.
Wanted: RS seat for Sharad Yadav
While still on AAP, the manner in which Sharad Yadav, the dissident JD(U) member of the Rajya Sabha, is cultivating Kejriwal would suggest a deeper design. Yadav is most likely to forfeit his RS seat soon. A plea by the official JD(U) faction to expel Yadav under the anti-defection law is now being considered by the RS Chairman Venkaiah Naidu. In that situation, he migh
t want Kejriwal to nominate him to the RS when the biennial elections to the Upper House become due early next year. That alone would explain Yadav’s gratuitous attempts to bring the AAP and the Congress closer.
It is an inherently impossible project given that the AAP and the Congress compete for the same vote-bank. The pitiable condition of the Congress in the national capital stemmed from the wholesale defection of its traditional support-base of jhuggi-jhopris and other under-privileged sections wanting freebies, such as water, electricity, to the AAP. Besides, both Kejriwal and the Gandhis hate to share power, running their respective parties as family fiefdoms.
But that does not prevent Yadav from trying for the seemingly impossible, if nothing else it might, he would hope, yield him a further six years in the RS. A leader without a constituency to call his own anywhere in the country, Yadav has always relied on others to accommodate him ever since he first shot into limelight as the candidate of the combined Opposition in the Lok Sabha by-election from Jabalpur, his home town, way back in 1974. Survival stays supreme with the now ageing socialist warrior.
The geriatric politics at IIC
The India International Centre, the so-called intellectual hub in the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi, is not without its own share of controversies. The newly- dominant management has recently ordered an inquiry into the admission, albeit on a temporary basis, of
some 200-odd members. They are now scrutinizing the applications of these temporary members and intend to weed those out `who might not fit into the IIC’s culture,’ as one of the elected members of the management committee put it. How that can be done without the IIC opening itself to a legal challenge defies commonsense. Meanwhile, the IIC management has finally got rid of a junior employee who is said to have dipped into its finances. Apparently, she was sacked at the pain of a criminal case for alleged fraud and defalcation of accounts.
Given that IIC is said to be a non-profit organization, the managerial mess is a reflection of the peculiarities and prejudices of its permanent trustees, each with his own agenda. Kapila Vatsyan, for instance, is one of the oldest trustees, but despite being near- blind and in poor physical health she seeks to remote-control the IIC. Also, another trustee, Soli Sorabjee, the eminent jurist, might be mentally and intellectually sharp, but has difficulty walking due to bad knees. N N Vohra, the J and K Governor who recently replaced Sorabee as IIC President, is no spring chicken himself at 80-plus. The geriatric club seems to have lost its grip on IIC, and it shows in its day-to-day functioning.
Damned if Shah is polite, and damned if he is not
It is a case of damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. At the cost of BJP President Amit Shah, the media is reading motives into his cordial conduct. Apparently, at this year’s Diwali Milan at 11 Ashoka Road, the BJP headquarters, both Prime Minister Modi and Shah were as usual friendly towards the members of the so-called fourth estate. And precisely because of that reason, some journos began to read meaning into Shah’s politeness, suspecting that the change in attitude was the outcome of the recent half-baked story against his son, Jayesh, by a leftist portal. Of course, this was utter nonsense.
If initially the media felt that Shah acted cold and distant it was essentially due to the fact that he was new in the capital, and to the high BJP post, and fully unfamiliar with the media’s ways. In fact, a couple of weeks after he took over as BJP President, the woman reporter who did that so-called investigative report against his son, accosted him in the party office, seeking an interview. He is said to have turned around, telling her, “ Madam, Pahley theek kapdey pahan key aayey, phir baat kareygey….’ (Madam, first dress properly and then seek an interview.) Working for a financial daily then, apparently the woman reporter was dressed provocatively in a mini dress for a regular work-a-day routine. The story goes that he did finally meet her after a lapse of a few weeks but this time the reporter was dressed in a manner least likely to cause offence to anyone.