New Delhi: Aam Aadmi Party convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is infamous for reversing his statements, did another volte-face on Tuesday when he cleared that he wanted the AAP to spread its wings outside the national capital.
Notably, Kejriwal, while addressing his party volunteers and supporters at the oath-taking ceremony, had promised to focus on the national capital for the next five years and not deviate this time. Later also, Kejriwal had said that the party was not a Napoleon who was looking to conquer states. The last time he and his party members went to polls in General Elections, they had to face an embarrassing defeat.
However, tone of Kejriwal has changed after assuming the office of Delhi Chief Minister, probably in a bid to keep the party intact.
On Tuesday night, AAP, which is battling infighting, decided to expand the party and contest polls in other states to send a clear message to its rank and file ahead of its National Council meeting that Kejriwal was not opposed to such steps.
This is to be underlined here that this was the issue over which dissident leader Yogendra Yadav had come under fire as he had favoured AAP spreading its wings in some other states.
"The party will expand. We will work to strengthen our organisation in other states. A decision on in which states the party should contest elections will be taken only after looking at political capacity and leadership in those states,” senior party leader Sanjay Singh told reporters after a two-hour-long meeting of AAP's Political Affairs Committee, the party's top decision-making body, held at Kejriwal's Kaushambi residence.
Defending the party's decision, senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh stated that if Kejriwal said he will work for Delhi, it does not mean the party will not work on the national front and that it will not strengthen further.
Another AAP leader Ashutosh said the PAC will make decisions on the basis of assessments around the nation.
We have never said anything which meant that AAP would not work on the national level, added Ashutosh.
Sources said that in the first PAC meeting of AAP held following Yadav and Prashant Bhushan’s ouster from the panel, the party tried to achieve two goals.
One, the Kejriwal camp wanted to ensure they had the numbers in the National Council (NC) meeting, which is to be held next week, in case of any major “crisis” which requires voting.
Second, the party also wanted to send a clear message to the state volunteers, who are in a majority in the NC, that Kejriwal was in favour of contesting the polls in some states which have good organisational strength.
“Among the state volunteers, there is a large number of supporters of Yadav. If there is any kind of crisis in the NC, we need to have numbers on our side.”
“Most NC members are from different states. Yadav has been appeasing the state committees by strongly projecting himself as someone who bats for them. More importantly, he also has influence with the state units,” said a senior party leader.
“This is also to send a message to state volunteers that Arvind is not opposed to contesting polls in the states,” the leader added.
The AAP NC, which has over 300 members, will meet on March 28.
Meanwhile, Yadav welcomed the party’s decisions, saying it was taken to push it the right direction.
“PAC’s decision to involve volunteers in party’s decision-making recognises Swaraj within the party. Looking forward to detailed blueprint.”
“Welcome PAC’s statement to expand the organisation nationally & to consider contesting elections outside Delhi. Step in the right direction,” Yadav said in tweets after the meeting.
Incidentally, during his stay for treatment in Bengaluru, Kejriwal had said that the party was not a Napoleon who was looking to conquer states. He said he preferred to focus on Delhi and present it as a model state.
“Everyone says now we have won Delhi, we will win others as well. Are we like Napoleon on a victory march? We have to change the system, so we will have to give a good government and a good system in Delhi.
“If Delhi changes, I have a belief that the whole country will change. We want you guys to give us your ideas and all of you to participate in this,” he had said.
(With Agency inputs)