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House divided, Kejriwal shifts

New Delhi, July 29: Arvind Kejriwal today vacated the government flat he had been allotted as chief minister and moved out of Delhi bag and baggage at a time his own party is looking increasingly like a house divided.

At the crux of the chasm is the differences between Kejriwal and one of the AAP’s most visible faces, Yogendra Yadav.

Kejriwal vacated the C II/23 flat and moved back to the one in Kaushambi in neighbouring Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, the same place where he stayed before his party came to power in last year’s Delhi elections.

The AAP chief had been under pressure to move out of the three-bedroom flat in Delhi since he resigned as chief minister five months ago.

While Kejriwal might be hoping the shift back rings in the good times again that saw his rookie outfit storm to power, the state of affairs in the party he floated doesn’t look promising.

His differences with Yadav came out into the open recently when the AAP decided not to contest the upcoming Assembly elections in Haryana. “Workers are disappointed, so am I. Delhi elections are crucial but giving up elsewhere doesn’t help party prospects in Delhi,” Yadav had tweeted, disapproving of the decision, widely believed to have been taken by Kejriwal.

Kejriwal had justified the decision, saying the AAP had “limited resources”, but people close to Yadav questioned the argument. “With limited resources we contested 434 Lok Sabha seats,” said a leader close to Yadav. “So why can’t we contest Assembly elections in a small state like Haryana?”

Kejriwal and Yadav were seen as the AAP’s main driving force and it was widely known that the former chief minister never took a decision without consulting the soft-spoken and articulate psephologist-turned-politician, regarded as the party’s ideologue. The decision to go all out in the Lok Sabha polls and take on Narendra Modi in Varanasi was believed to have been driven by Yadav.

The poor show in the national elections, where the party won just four seats, altered everything. “The majority in the party felt the decision to leave Delhi and spread thin in the Lok Sabha elections was a wrong move. Kejriwal is now being forced to make corrections,” said an AAP leader.

The AAP has also decided not to contest in any of the upcoming elections in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir.

AAP spokesperson Sanjay Singh insisted there were no differences of opinion. “We want to focus on Delhi. There is no other reason,” Singh said, terming Yadav’s views “personal”.

But many in the party fear that Yadav might walk out if he continued to be sidelined. Yadav has already started showing signs of taking independent positions.

“Sushma Swaraj makes a good, friendly beginning in Nepal, an improvement over the imperious ways in which UPA govt treated Nepal,” Yadav tweeted today, lauding the NDA government at a time the AAP is gearing to go all out against the BJP.