Another trouble for Kejriwal: AAP a divided house over contesting polls in Haryana

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The Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal may have decided to not to contest in the upcoming assembly elections in Haryana but the party has found itself in a catch 22 situation after some of its volunteers questioned the party leadership's decision in the matter, asking whom should they vote for now.

The party volunteers in Haryana are now mounting pressure over central leadership to participate in polls. The demand for AAP to contest upcoming assembly polls in Haryana again gained momentum on Thursday after a group of agitated party workers asked AAP leader and its Political Affairs Committee member Prashant Bhushan over the same.

"If (controversial minister) Gopal Kanda can contest elections in the state, then why can't we? When there was a Modi wave in the country, the party polled over 5 lakh votes. We have a dedicated set of workers. Whom should we vote for now?" the volunteers asked.

A new trouble brewing for AAP

This development has fanned an uninvited trouble for the party which is working hard to regain lost ground in the capital state after the Lok Sabha polls.

Stung by its decimation in the general election, where it bagged just four out of 440 Lok Sabha seats it contested, all of them from Punjab, the party's leadership had decided to focus only on upcoming Delhi Assembly polls as of now. Kejriwal had opted to stay away from assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra and give Delhi a priority.

Party convener Arvind Kejriwal had voiced his "personal opinion" that AAP should concentrate on contesting the Delhi elections. But, the agitated volunteers refused to relent and even questioned their say.

Bhushan even tried to placate the AAP volunteers, who had come to the party's Hanuman Road office in Delhi, but they refused to relent.

Why is AAP avoiding Assembly elections in Haryana?

After performing exceptionally well in Delhi assembly polls last year AAP had campaigned hardly to repeat a Delhi-like success in the neighbouring Haryana as well but the party could not win even a single seat from the state. Focusing too much outside Delhi turned fatal for the party as it couldn't even win a single seat in the state where it was in power a few months back. This has probably forced the party to target only Delhi re-polls as it thinks it is easier coming back to power in Delhi once again.

Also, the party has seen a sharp dip in its fund flow. The party's coffers were almost empty after Lok Sabha poll decimation and with limited amount of money it cannot afford to campaign in other states. Delhi being a small state and its previous stronghold would be easier to conquer, the party may be thinking. This could also be one of the reasons why Kejriwal has decided to avoid testing waters in Haryana and Maharashtra.

Also, several big leaders have left AAP following its drubbing hence the party is also staring at lack of capable leaders who could become party's face in these elections. Party's sole big name from Haryana Yogendra Yadav had to face humiliation at the hands of BJP's Rao Inderjit Singh from Gurgaon seat. It seems Kejriwal doubts that Yadav's presence could help the party win significant number of seats in the 90-member assembly in Haryana.

AAP divided over participating in Haryana polls

Although one section of the AAP leadership, including Kejriwal, is not in favour of contesting the Haryana polls, another wants the party to enter the fray.

The party volunteers in Haryana have also questioned Kejriwal's autocracy after he individually decided on the party's behalf over not entering the fray in Haryana.

The volunteers also claimed they had been assured that the party would take a final call on the matter despite the national executive's decision to not contest the state polls.

"What are the volunteers expected to do? We toiled in Delhi, Varanasi but, when it came to our state, the party simply told us that we will not contest elections.

"Where is 'swaraj' in the party? Volunteers were never taken into confidence by the national executive when the decision to not contest was taken.

"Prashant Bhushan says that if you don't have a viable option then we should press the NOTA button. But is it worth wasting over 5 lakh votes on NOTA?" said Dilbag Deswal, a volunteer from Panipat.

The volunteers have also threatened to go on a fast outside the party office if their demand was not met.

Hence, it would be interesting to see how Kejriwal reacts to this new trouble brewing within the party. Will Kejriwal crush the rising demand or subdue to their demands.

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