The resignation of senior AAP leader Ashutosh from the party because of “personal reasons”, which has been rejected by party chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, does not bode well for the fledgling party. His resignation comes months after the exit of two other senior Delhi-based leaders, Kumar Vishwas and Ashish Khetan. While Vishwas was removed as the party in-charge of Rajasthan in April, Khetan quit as the vice-chairman of the Delhi government’s think-tank, the Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi. The churning in Delhi comes even as the party has virtually split in Punjab, where several MLAs have decided not to follow the direction of the central leadership.
Ashutosh’s resignation marks another chapter in the AAP’s difficult journey since its birth about six years ago. Many of its founder leaders such as Shanti Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan have left the party while Vishwas has been in a sulk for more than two years now. All of them have openly blamed Kejriwal, accusing the Delhi CM of steering the party away from the ideals on which it was formed. Their grievance may not be totally misplaced. The reason for Ashutosh’s resignation, it is felt, was because he was unhappy at the party denying him a seat in the Rajya Sabha while rewarding two newcomers, Delhi-based businessman Sushil Gupta and chartered accountant N D Gupta.
Both were associated with other parties until just months before the AAP sent them to the Upper House. But Ashutosh was among the first to join the party, quitting a career in journalism. He helped build the party from a non-entity to one that is in power in Delhi and came within striking distance in Punjab. Ashutosh’s anger has to be looked at from this perspective. The AAP had received massive support after it was launched and many across the country truly believed that it would change the way politics is practised. But over the years it has engaged in realpolitik, making it no different from others that are already in the political landscape.