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‘Will Convince Kumar Vishwas,’ Says Arvind Kejriwal After Midnight Meeting

NEW DELHI: Kumar Vishwas is attending a meeting of top Aam Aadmi Party leaders this morning, indicating that he may not quit the party just yet. But sources close to him say that the AAP founder member has told party chief Arvind Kejriwal that he has conditions that must be met for him to stay on.

Mr Vishwas had skipped the last such meeting of AAP’s Political Affairs Committee or PAC on Monday evening and had met reporters instead on Tuesday, saying, teary-eyed, that he would “take a decision tonight.” That had set up the expectation of a big announcement today that could further dent the party, already reeling from multiple election defeats including last week’s drubbing in the Delhi civic polls.

The immediate crisis was averted after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal drove up to Mr Vishwas’s home in Delhi suburb Ghaziabad to talk to his colleague after he defied Mr Kejriwal’s gag order and made public his disenchantment with the party.

“Kumar Vishwas is an integral part of our movement. He has some grudges. We will convince him,” said Mr Kejriwal, who was accompanied by his deputy Manish Sisodia. They then left for the Chief Minister’s residence on Flagstaff Road, Kumar Vishwas included, to continue discussions.

The chief demand of Kumar Vishwas, a 46-year-old Hindi poet and satirist with a mass following, is that Amanatullah Khan, a Delhi legislator who accused him of trying to stage a coup to grab the post of AAP chief, be sacked. He is upset that Mr Khan was only removed from a key party post and has pointed out that if anyone had made allegations against Mr Kejriwal or Mr Sisodia, he would’ve been thrown out of the party.

The Aam Aadmi Party, he reminded the party leadership, began as a movement at his home with just three people – Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Kumar Vishwas.

The poet-politician said bitterly 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.

A number of party lawmakers from Punjab and Delhi have written to Mr Kejriwal backing Mr Vishwas.

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.

“Nobody has asked him to apologise on anything but now Kumar is making this into a personal fight,” Manish Sisodia had said last night, adding that leaders going public with their complaints only benefits “other parties.”

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