The Aam Aadmi Party’s plans for the Haryana Assembly election later this year, and a potential seat-share deal with the Congress before the general election in April/May, hit a roadblock Thursday after Ashok Tanwar, its Dalit face and head of its Campaign Committee, quit citing “ethical” differences.
In a terse resignation letter addressed to AAP boss and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Mr Tanwar blamed “the current political scenario” and criticised his party’s talks with the Congress.
“In view of the current political scenario and your alignment with the Indian National Congress, my ethics won’t allow me to continue… therefore, kindly accept my resignation…” Mr Tanwar wrote.
Mr Tanwar’s next port of call is unclear. There is speculation the 47-year-old – who joined the AAP in the presence of Mr Kejriwal, from the Congress, in April 2022 – could cross over to the BJP; that speculation has been strengthened by his referring to India as “Bharat” in his resignation letter.
“As a responsible citizen of this country, and being into active politics since my student days, I have always believed in our Constitution, the country, and its people… I will continue to work for the betterment of the state of Haryana, our beloved country Bharat, and its people,” he said.
During his Congress days Mr Tanwar, who won the Sirsa Lok Sabha seat in 2009, was seen as a rising young star close to Rahul Gandhi.
In February 2014, the Congress appointed him as the chief of its Haryana unit, where he often clashed with former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who is now Leader of the Opposition. He had revolted against the party’s leadership alleging irregularities and corruption in ticket distribution.
READ | Ex-Haryana Congress Chief Ashok Tanwar Switches Sides Again, Joins AAP
Five years later he quit. Between then and 2022, when he joined the AAP, Mr Tanwar floated his own party, the Apna Bharat Morcha, and joined (and quit) the Trinamool Congress.
READ | Ex-Haryana Congress Chief Ashok Tanwar Launches New Party
Mr Tanwar’s resignation comes weeks after two other resignations; National Joint Secretary Nirmal Singh and his daughter, Haryana AAP Vice President Chitra Sarwara quit in December.
Both are expected to return to the Congress.
The forced reshuffle of the AAP’s Haryana ranks come as the party’s central leaders race to stitch together an alliance with the Congress, despite fierce objections by its Punjab and Haryana cadres.
READ | Supreme Court Rejects AAP’s Plea, Won’t Cancel Punjab Congress MLA’s Bail
The two are members of the INDIA opposition bloc, which aims to unite non-BJP groups to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP in the 2024 general election. However, relations between them are frosty, at best, with breakthroughs often swiftly followed by embarrassing setbacks.
On Wednesday the Congress’ state unit leaders compared Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann to Hitler. That was after the parties said they would contest the Chandigarh mayoral election together.