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Ashutosh’s resignation from AAP reflects poorly on Kejriwal’s ability as team leader

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Party leader tells ThePrint his exit is a ‘warning bell’ for seniors, other say two-three people take all the decisions, most are clueless about party strategy.

New Delhi: Aam Aadmi Party leader Ashutosh resigned from the party Wednesday, citing “very very personal reasons”, but there is more than meets the eye.

Ashutosh, who was a member of the Political Affairs Committee of the party — the AAP’s decision-making body — had not been attending programmes and meetings for a long time. Then, too, he had cited personal reasons.

“The resignation of Ashutosh is a warning bell for the senior leadership of the party. Who will be left to fight for 2019 polls?” an AAP leader, on the condition of anonymity, told ThePrint.

He said there was no internal democracy in the party. Many people who have been associated with AAP from the beginning get to know about party decisions from the media, the leader added.

Also read: Tepid response to AAP’s higher education loan scheme, only 19 apply this year

A senior party leader, also on the condition of anonymity, said: “There are many other people in the party who are now feeling very frustrated. Two-three people at the top decide everything. Your position in the party depends on the whims and fancies of few leaders.”

This was made evident during the Delhi government’s battle with the office of the Lieutenant Governor when top four AAP leaders — Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia and ministers Gopal Rai and Satyender Jain — sat in protest at Anil Baijal’s house. Ashutosh was missing.

After questions were raised on his absence, Ashutosh had tweeted saying he was on a family holiday in Europe at the time.

But an AAP leader told ThePrint: “He might have been holidaying in Europe at that time but Ashutosh was equally clueless about the party strategy.”

Ashutosh, a journalist-turned-politician, was instrumental in articulating and defending the party’s decisions on TV debates. He does not command any mass base, and unsuccessfully contested the last Lok Sabha elections from Delhi’s Chandni Chowk but lost to BJP’s Harsh Vardhan.

He was one of many mediapersons in the national capital who sought to fulfil their political aspirations by riding on the AAP’s popularity wave after the anti-corruption movement of 2011. Before joining politics, Ashutosh was the managing editor of Hindi news channel IBN7.

The Rajya Sabha fiasco

The year did not start on a good note for many senior party leaders. Three Rajya Sabha berths fell vacant and the party, by virtue of its brute majority in the Delhi Assembly, was well-placed to bag all three seats.

But what shocked many senior leaders was the announcement of the three candidates. Other than Sanjay Singh, an AAP spokesperson and a member of the PAC, the party nominated two outsiders — N.D. Gupta, a chartered accountant, and Sushil Gupta, a businessman.

N.D. Gupta has been associated with the party for the past two years as its CA, while Sushil Gupta resigned from the Congress and joined AAP just ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections.

“It is the prerogative of the party leadership who they send to the Rajya Sabha. But, the leadership should keep in mind that people had left their well-paying jobs to work for the AAP movement. It is also the responsibility of the leadership to take care of such people,” another senior leader told ThePrint.

Also read: ‘Rahul Gandhi can hug PM Modi, but can’t call Kejriwal’: AAP blames Congress for RS loss

As it is, Ashutosh’s exit from the AAP will not have any bearing on the party, except for the fact that he becomes another addition to the list of people who have fallen out with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal — including Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan.

They may not have any mass base, but they are opinion makers who are vocal on TV channels. The latest exit also reflects poorly on Kejriwal’s capability as a team player.

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  1. आम आदमी पार्टी से इस्तीफा देने के बाद आशुतोष को मनाने के लिए कई पार्टी नेता नोएडा स्तिथ उनके घर पहुंचे. सूत्रों के मुताबिक आशुतोष घर पर मौजूद ही नहीं थे लेकिन आम आदमी पार्टी के नेता गोपाल राय और दिलीप पांडेय वहां कई घंटे तक उनके आने का इंतजार करते रहे.

  2. Irrespective of size, each political party has a high command, and a culture to match. AAP needs to sort itself out, figure whether it is the party in power in a city state or it has a fighting chance on the national stage.

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