New Delhi: Patidar leader Hardik Patel tweeted his support for Kumar Vishwas, a founding member of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) just as the party is set to pick its nominees for the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections.
“If there is one man who can make the fake nationalists in Parliament shut up, it is Dr Kumar Vishwas. But is someone in AAP scared of his growing stature that they are trying to finish off both this opportunity and the party,” Patel tweeted on Tuesday.
संसद में अगर कोई एक आदमी फ़र्ज़ी राष्ट्रवादियों को चुप करा सकता हैं तो वो @DrKumarVishwas है पर पता नहीं @AamAadmiParty में किसे उनके क़द से असुरक्षा है कि पार्टी और मौक़ा दोनों को ख़त्म करने पर तुले हैं? — Hardik Patel (@HardikPatel_) January 2, 2018
According to party sources, Vishwas and Arvind Kejriwal, who were once thick as thieves, have not been on talking terms since the Punjab elections.
With an overwhelming majority in Delhi, AAP can nominate three MPs to the Upper House. Vishwas has openly staked his claim for a seat but sources indicate the party may disappoint him yet again.
That Vishwas has been trying to build a case to confront the leadership can be traced from his statements after poll debacles in Punjab, Goa and Delhi by-polls.
After reports emerged of a rift between the two, Kejriwal took to Twitter to write, "Kumar is my younger brother. Some people are trying to create a rift between us. Such people are enemies of the party. They better mend their ways. No one can separate us."
When the crisis deepened and it looked like Vishwas would not buckle, the Delhi Chief Minister had to go to Vishwas's residence to pacify him. "Naraz hai, milne ke liye aaya hoon (He is upset, I have come to meet him)," a smiling Kejriwal told reporters outside Vishwas's house, ahead of the dramatic midnight meeting.
Soon, images of Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and other senior leaders meeting a miffed Vishwas flooded TV screens. Vishwas looked defiant with his hands behind his back while a despondent-looking Kejriwal stood at a distance.
In October, in an exclusive interview with News18, Vishwas had said, “I believe personal relations between leaders shouldn’t influence the party’s affairs. What I will say is that those who have been with us since the days of the Anna movement should be fearless and speak the truth. They should say what is right and what is wrong.”
The relationship was tested yet again last month, during the party’s National Council (NC) meeting when Vishwas was denied a speaking slot.
Manish Sisodia, though, intervened then and reached out to the leader to yet again sooth his bruised ego and personally invite him to speak.
Now, just a week ahead of the RS nominations, on Thursday, a group of Aam Aadmi Party volunteers, all donning the AAP cap, reached the party’s headquarters on Rouse Avenue, New Delhi. Amidst chants of ‘Humara Vishwas, Kumar Vishwas!’ (Our faith lies with Kumar Vishwas!), they demanded that Vishwas be sent to the Rajya Sabha.
“Given the current situation in the country, where the PM and government are fooling the people on a daily basis, the country and the party need a strong voice in Parliament. Who better to take on the government than Kumar Vishwas?” said Omendra Bharat, an AAP worker.
Despite the show of strength, party insiders say Vishwas’s chances of making a cut to the Rajya Sabha are slim. Party sources have said the AAP is likely to send senior leader Sanjay Singh along with businessman and former Congress leader Sushil Gupta and renowned chartered accountant ND Gupta to the Rajya Sabha.
When asked if a decision on the Rajya Sabha nominees would come soon, AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said in a stock response, “The decision will be taken by the PAC. You will all know soon enough.”
An AAP source close to Kumar Vishwas said the deterioration of the Kejriwal-Kumar relationship began with the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
“Arvind took all party workers to Varanasi for his own campaign. Vishwas, who was contesting from Amethi, was left to fend for himself. The party had three founding members who are still around – Kejriwal, Vishwas and Manish Sisodia. Kejriwal is CM, Sisodia is Deputy CM, but what did Kumar Vishwas get?”
Vishwas finally seems to be seeking his pound of flesh from Kejriwal in the RS nomination. His friendship with the Delhi Chief Minister hangs by a fine thread which may break anytime soon.