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‘We Will Meet Like Divorced Parents Now’: How Ashutosh’s Romance With AAP Ended in 51 Days

Going by the response of AAP leaders, it seems Ashutosh going public with his decision on Independence Day took them by surprise.

Rupashree Nanda | CNN-News18

Updated:August 24, 2018, 8:55 PM IST
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‘We Will Meet Like Divorced Parents Now’: How Ashutosh’s Romance With AAP Ended in 51 Days
File photo of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal with Ashutosh.
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New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party lost one of its most visible faces when Ashutosh decided to go public with his decision to quit the party on Independence Day, 51 days after he had formally communicated to the party his decision to resign.

Between June 23 and August 15, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal made various attempts to persuade him to reverse his decision. He invited Ashutosh to dinner, where a meeting with the party’s top leadership, including Manish Sisodia, Sanjay Singh and Gopal Rai, was held.

The Delhi CM, his deputy and Ashutosh even saw the film Mulk together a few days ago along with their families.

Going by the response of the leaders, it seems Ashutosh going public with his decision on Independence Day took them by surprise.

As the news broke, AAP Rajya Sabha member and troubleshooter Sanjay Singh cut short his Lucknow trip and rushed back to Delhi, while Gopal Rai, Dilip Pandey and Adil Ahmed Khan hurried to Ashutosh’s residence in Noida’s sector 105, where they were made to wait for over four hours.

Ashutosh was not at home and sources said he was in a meeting with his publishers. The team left only after 9.30 pm after Ashutosh spoke with them on phone and promised them a meeting over lunch the next day.

The AAP leaders, including Sanjay Singh, had a four-hour long conversation the following day. News18 has learnt that Ashutosh was offered, among other things, a ticket to contest Lok Sabha elections from West Delhi, a seat that the party considers to be winnable. He was also offered the post of vice-chairman of the Delhi Dialogue Commission.

But the talks headed nowhere as the offerings failed to sway Ashutosh.

Sources said Ashutosh had made up his mind to quit after the party decided to give the Rajya Sabha ticket to Sushil Gupta, an "outsider". Gupta was with the Congress till three months before his nomination. At the time, Ashutosh not only made it a point to have his dissent recorded in the PAC but also made it known to the world.

The airing of grievances in public did not go down well with the other PAC members. Ashutosh did accompany Sanjay Singh when the latter went to file his nomination, but he went underground after that. He traveled to Europe and buried himself in a book on the last four years of Narendra Modi regime.

He had made up his mind. Rajya Sabha nominations had decided it for Ashutosh. The nominations of ‘two outsiders’ had caused heartburn in the party.

“The honeymoon was over, divorce happened, and when we meet, we will meet like divorced parents do for the sake of children”. This is how Ashutosh termed his tearing away from the party to his former colleagues.

A continuing process, he is learnt to have said, had made him realise that it was not working out for him in AAP any longer.

While he accepted that it was expected AAP in 2018 would not be the same as it was in 2013, what was not expected was that the change would be so disillusioning. The ‘romance’ wore off for some the party’s most ardent members. Not surprisingly, another member of the party termed Ashutosh’s decision as, ‘emotional and not political’.

Kejriwal’s response to Ashutosh’s resignation has been unusual in more ways than one. This is perhaps the first time that the AAP chief publicly refused to accept resignation of a team member who went public and forced his hands.

It is also unusual for the burst of emotions in two tweets: “How can we accept your resignation Sir, Not in this life time?” and, “Sir, we all love you”.

It is not difficult to see why the former journalist and ex-AAP member prefers to use terms like, ‘romance’ and ‘divorce’ to describe the end of his journey with the party.

A successful and popular TV anchor and journalist, he was involved in the Jan Lokpal Movement that later morphed into the Aam Aadmi Party.

Kejriwal did give Ashutosh an opportunity to contest Lok Sabha elections in 2014 from Chandni Chowk constituency, and following the Punjab debacle, he was also offered the role of Punjab in charge, which he refused citing family responsibilities.

Ashutosh, along with Pankaj Gupta were also responsible for the campaign for Goa elections, where the party failed to make a mark. He had also communicated his decision not to contest elections last year, saying, “Electoral politics is not for me”.

The former AAP leader has communicated to his former colleagues that he “will not join the anti-AAP, anti-Arvind brigade’, but there will be no looking back.

As he looks at a comeback to journalism, Ashutosh, it is learnt, has also told his former party that he reserves the right to criticise, but said it will not be driven by vengeance. Publishers have been quick to reach out to him to write on his tryst with AAP, but he turned them down.
| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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