- Kumar Vishwas allegedly in search of bigger role in AAP
- Claims other party leaders are maligning him
- Has been accused of wanting to replace Arvind Kejriwal as party chief
Kumar Vishwas defied his boss and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's gag order to remind him on Tuesday that the Aam Aadmi Party began as a movement at his home with just three people - Mr Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia and Mr Vishwas.
The 46-year-old AAP leader stood outside his home, teary-eyed, as he said he "will take a decision tonight." On Tuesday night, Arvind Kejriwal along with his deputy Manish Sisodia met Mr Vishwas, who is expected to announce today whether he will stay on in AAP or quit.
"Kumar Vishwas is inherent part of our movement...he is upset, but I'm hopeful that we will be able to convince him," Mr Kejriwal said after meeting at his Ghaziabad home yesterday.
Rumours about Mr Vishwas' growing proximity to the BJP have swirled ever since he had praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi a few years ago. He has earlier denied any plan to join to the BJP. On Tuesday he brought up his praise of PM Modi, saying he felt no need to apologise for it.
Kumar Vishwas, a popular Hindi poet and satirist with a mass following, was accused this week of plotting a coup to overthrow Mr Kejriwal as AAP chief. A Delhi legislator Amanatullah Khan also alleged that if he failed in his takeover bid, Mr Vishwas planned to join the BJP taking with him several AAP legislators.
Mr Khan was divested of a key party post for going public with his allegations as Mr Kejriwal tried to placate Mr Vishwas.
The poet-politician was bitter as he said on Tuesday that his credibility has been questioned, hinting at Mr Khan being a proxy for top leaders in the party who want to malign him. The reference was to leaders like Sanjay Singh and Dilip Pandey, who quit key posts last week owning responsibility for the party's drubbing in recent elections.
Mr Vishwas had not been asked to apologise, "he made it personal," said Manish Sisodia, sharply critical of Mr Vishwas' decision to go public despite Mr Kejriwal talking to him for "three hours yesterday." Mr Vishwas, he said, should have discussed his complaints in a party forum instead of going public with them. "This demoralises workers. They too know why leaders make such statements and to benefit which party," Mr Sisodia said.
A meeting of the AAP's Public Affairs Committee or PAC planned for this evening was cancelled. Mr Vishwas had skipped Monday's meeting.
Mr Vishwas' supporters see the attack on him as an attempt to scuttle his chances at being given a bigger role in AAP; despite being a founder member, Mr Vishwas is currently only responsible for overseas funding. Sources said a promotion is planned for him in a big organisational shake-up being initiated by Mr Kejriwal.
The same set of leaders had targeted Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, who were expelled from AAP two years ago. Today, many in the party wondered if AAP will lose Kumar Vishwas too. A number of party lawmakers from Punjab and Delhi have written to Mr Kejriwal backing Mr Vishwas.