Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Uttarakhand chief Deepak Bali joined the BJP Tuesday, less than 24 hours after quitting the former. Bali, who was appointed AAP’s state president just six-odd weeks ago, said he was upset about the party’s “organisational system” and its “silence” on a Hanuman statue being broken in Pakistan, among other things.
This is the second big blow for the Uttarakhand AAP in less than a month. In May, Colonel Ajay Kothiyal (Retd), the AAP’s chief ministerial face in the 2022 assembly elections, quit the party, citing what he described as organisational failures, and joined the BJP. In April, the AAP also saw its Himachal unit chief defecting to the BJP.
In a resignation letter sent to AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Bali wrote: “I was not comfortable working with the AAP under its existing organisational system. As a result, I tender my resignation as party’s state chief and from primary membership of the organisation.”
Speaking to ThePrint after he joined the BJP, Bali said he was also unhappy that the AAP had not spoken up about “national issues”.
“My immediate reason for leaving AAP was Kejriwal’s and the party’s silence on national issues, especially when an idol of Hanuman was broken [in Karachi] and a Hindu woman was killed by fanatics in Pakistan,” he said.
Further, Bali said, he was “impressed” by Uttarakhand CM and BJP leader Pushkar Singh Dhami, “especially his decisions in the first term before elections”.
“Even while we were in AAP, we knew BJP was unstoppable in the assembly polls,” Bali added.
In the Uttarakhand elections earlier this year, the BJP returned to power for its second consecutive term in Uttarakhand with a two-third majority. The AAP had fielded candidates in all 70 seats, but failed to win even one.
Worrying trend for AAP
When he welcomed Bali into the BJP, Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami said that the new entrant had “seen the AAP’s real face from inside after the Pakistan incident”.
He also said that the two states bound for polls this year — Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat — were witnessing AAP leaders defecting to the BJP.
“AAP is being wiped out from Uttarakhand. This will be followed in the entire country… It must be remembered that the oxygen emanating from the Himalayas works for the whole nation,” Dhami said at the induction ceremony in the party’s office.
Uttarakhand BJP chief Madan Kaushik told ThePrint that his party expected to see other state unit chiefs of the AAP moving to the party in the near future.
“Himachal Pradesh AAP president joined the BJP recently along with a host of other leaders. This was followed by AAP’s CM face in Uttarakhand and a large number of party leaders and workers in Gujarat. Now their Uttarakhand state president has taken the BJP membership. Soon, we will see AAP’s other state units follow suit,” Kaushik said.
In April, the AAP was forced to dissolve its Himachal Pradesh working committee after a string of defections, including that of state chief Anoop Kesari. In March, about 3,500 AAP members also reportedly defected to the BJP in poll-bound Gujarat.
‘Organisational issues, party doomed’
Deepak Bali said he believed “the AAP has no future in Uttarakhand” because the state unit was “left to fend for itself”.
“The state organisation was not getting needed support from the central leadership even though I had three meetings with the national convenor and he promised all help,” Bali alleged.
A real-estate businessman who came to prominence as an agitator for statehood for Uttarakhand when it was still part of UP, Bali is believed to have shared a good equation with CM Dhami for years.
On 24 May, AAP’s former CM face, Colonel Ajay Kothiyal (Retd) joined the BJP, just a month-and-a-half after elections in the state concluded. He had alleged that party tickets had been “sold” in the 2022 elections, which he had also contested and lost.
Kothiyal had also criticised the central leadership of the AAP. “Promises made by Kejriwal to strengthen the organisation were not kept by him. The central leadership failed to understand the political reality of Uttarakhand, as the party was rejected by the people in assembly polls. AAP’s future in Uttarakhand is doomed,” he said. (The Print)