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Embattled Arvind’s pep talk for party

Arvind Kejriwal

New Delhi, May 19: Arvind Kejriwal today admitted “weaknesses” in the Aam Aadmi Party’s structure and promised remedies, rushing to pep up volunteers deflated by the election rout and contain a possible threat of rebellion.

The poll disaster has prompted murmurs within the ranks against Kejriwal’s decisions and alleged dictatorial style. His rejection of a proposal to form the government in Delhi with Congress support has raised fears that his 28 MLAs might defect to the BJP.

“We are only a one-and-a-half-year-old party,” Kejriwal said in a video message to his party after three days of lying low since the declaration of the election results.

“There are lots of weaknesses in our organisational structure. Now we all have to get together and build a proper organisational structure.”

Kejriwal has come under attack from the ranks for fielding candidates across the country without an adequate party structure to support them, thus raising hopes that were dashed when the party won just four seats.

He is also being criticised for concentrating the party’s energy on his constituency, Varanasi, knowing that he stood not a chance against Narendra Modi.

“Without a proper party structure, we went across the country to contest the Lok Sabha elections. This was a big mistake. We should have concentrated on Delhi and some neighbouring states,” a senior party leader said.

This leader accused Kejriwal of acting like a dictator and taking decisions without consulting colleagues. “If he doesn’t change his style, the party has a very short life,” the leader said.

Unrest seems to be brewing among the party’s Delhi MLAs who apparently want Kejriwal to revive last December’s arrangement under which the Congress propped up an Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi.

Kejriwal and other senior leaders have rejected the proposal, saying they can’t go back on their word after having demanded fresh elections while stepping down from power, and having even protested the move to keep the Assembly in suspended animation.

However, the MLAs fear the party would be wiped out if fresh Assembly elections are held before the so-called “Modi wave” dies down. In the Lok Sabha polls, the party scored a duck in Delhi, where its stunning performance last December had catapulted it into the national limelight.

There are fears, therefore, about some of the MLAs walking over to the BJP to avoid losing their seats in an early election.

So far, the BJP has not given any indication that it wants to foment a rebellion in its rival’s ranks to form a government in Delhi.

“None of the MLAs wants an election. In such a situation, nothing can be ruled out,” an Aam Aadmi Party source said.

Kejriwal’s message today is clearly aimed at boosting the ranks’ morale — a crucial part of any revival for the party.

Many of the volunteers — not typical political workers by any yardstick — had taken leave from work or quit their jobs to join the rookie party’s campaign, inspired by its emotional appeal of “liberating” the country. They have now returned home disheartened.