Not all AAP volunteers smiling now

Aam Aadmi Party sees its share of squabbling over distribution of tickets

AAP’s impressive electoral debut in the Delhi Assembly elections in December catapulted the party to the national level. At a victory rally at Jantar Mantar, Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal announced AAP’s big ticket plan of fighting the general election.

And this was even before the party had staked claim to form the government in Delhi. 
Since the Assembly election, the AAP's volunteer base has expanded nationwide, and donations keep coming. But a large chunk of party workers in Delhi finds itself out of business.

 A small faction of AAP supporters, which call themselves the Aam Aadmi Sena, alleges that the party failed to keep the house in order.  The group was set to stage a protest at Jantar Mantar on Sunday against the party’s `parachute candidates'. “More leaders should have come from within the party,” Mithun Khanagwal, who has been working for the party since the Delhi Assembly elections, says.

Several volunteers allege that the support of party workers in Delhi is thinning. “There are now less than 100 active members in New Delhi constituency. For the Delhi Assembly elections, there were at least 250 active volunteers,” a party member says. Volunteers at the party office on Hanuman Road in central Delhi say that the  hierarchy in the party is now keeping them away. 

“Even in getting a photocopy done we face problems. Earlier nobody stopped me,” a worker who helped AAP during its autorickshaw poster campaign says. He says the party doesn’t even have the Election Commission’s permission to put these posters behind autorickshaws. 

“So the autowallahs are now complaining. Some are even asking for money this time,” he says, pointing out that AAP should have consolidated its position in Delhi before contesting the Lok Sabha polls. 

Earlier, a group had launched anti-Kejriwal posters that read ‘Kejriwal betrayed’. “It is not about what Kejriwal has done. The question in fact is what he has not done,” Rakesh Agarwal of Nyayabhoomi, who rallied autorickshaw drivers for Kejriwal’s campaign, says.

He says most of the promises made to autorickshaw drivers went unfulfilled. Party detractors say the AAP’s 49-day rule was too brief to fulfil promises. Lakhan Singh, who is sitting on a dharna outside the Hanuman Road office, says AAP looks like a party in a hurry. 

Singh says AAP Lok Sabha candidate from Hamirpur constituency in UP has criminal cases against him. Two women outside Kejriwal’s house at C 2/23 Tilak Lane are making similar allegations against an AAP candidate from UP. Some at the party office say there are more ticket-seekers than volunteers.

On March 9, dissent within the party over ticket distribution surfaced when founder member and legal cell head Ashwini Upadhyay resigned from the party and made a bunch of allegations. Protesting over not getting a ticket for the general elections, he called Kejriwal a “liar” and a “CIA agent”.

Two days later, AAP national executive member Ashok Agarwal resigned, alleging “elitism” in ticket distribution. He says the party was functioning like a private limited company. The earlier nominee for North-West Delhi constituency accused his replacement, former minister Rakhi Birla, of demanding money to campaign for him. 

Kejriwal is set to return to Delhi in the last leg of the campaign. But some party workers feel Kejriwal should show up at the Jantar Mantar to placate AAP workers protesting there.

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