New Delhi: The simmering rift in AAP on Tuesday took an ugly turn with four top leaders launching a blistering attack on Yogendra Yadav and father-son-duo of Shanti and Prashant Bhushan, accusing them of working for its defeat in the Delhi Assembly polls and trying to malign image of Arvind Kejriwal.
In the first official statement by the top brass since the infighting came out in the open, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Transport Minister Gopal Rai, party General Secretary Pankaj Gupta and Sanjay Singh -- all known to be Kejriwal loyalists -- defended the decision to remove Prashant and Yadav from the powerful political affairs committee (PAC).
Yadav hit back at the party, alleging that Delhi MLAs were being "coerced" to sign papers against them while Prashant said the country would know the "whole truth" very soon.
A number of AAP leaders said that circumstances "forced" the leadership to come out with the statement over the issue.
The four Kejriwal loyalists accused Shanti, Prashant and Yadav of acting against party's interest, saying they wanted defeat for AAP in the Delhi polls.
"The trio, especially Prashant called up volunteers from other states and told them not to campaign for the party. I will not be campaigning for the party this time. You guys also don't campaign. It is necessary for the party to lose. It is only then Arvind (Kejriwal) will get some sense.
"In front of Anjali Damania (AAP leader from Maharashtra), he told the same to workers of Mysore. Those funding the party were discouraged from doing so," said a joint statement by the four AAP leaders.
"When volunteers were sweating out to ensure party's victory, Shanti, Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav were working for party's defeat," it said.
Strongly refuting the allegations, Yadav accused the party leadership of putting pressure on the members to speak out against him as well as Prashant and Shanti Bhushan.
"They should not put pressure on members to speak out against us or force Delhi MLAs to sign papers against us.
"Hope this statement ends all slander, planting of allegations. Hope no more coercion of party functionaries and Delhi MLAs on this issue," Yadav said.
Prashant and Yadav were voted out from the party's PAC last week. The proposal to drop the two was introduced by Sisodia, seconded by Singh and supported by nine others including Gupta and Rai.