If you look only at the final outcome, it seems like Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had his way on Wednesday.

He wasn't at the Aam Aadmi Party's National Executive meeting, which went on for six hours at a resort on the Delhi city limits, but Kejriwal's camp ended up with a victory: senior leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, who have been accused of working against the party, are no longer in AAP's political affairs committee that makes key strategic decisions. But a careful tally of the votes and the price the party could pay for the acrimony that surrounded this meeting could still end up seriously damaging AAP.

The vote to remove Yadav and Bhushan from the political affairs committee ended with 11 in favour of the motion and eight against. That is a majority, with Kejriwal and one other member not present to vote. But it is by no means the consensus decision that most had expected from this vote. Yadav and Bhushan may no longer be in the party's top-most decision-making committee, but their departure has not been smooth.

"I will abide by the majority decision of the national executive," Yadav said, emerging from the gates of the resort where the meeting was taking place. Bhushan too emphasised the fact that the decision hadn't been unanimous. "The national executive has decided with majority that me and Yogendra Yadav will not be part of the PAC," he said. "This is the majority decision."

Ugly battle

Yadav and Bhushan had been at the centre of the storm over the last week or so in a leadership battle that managed to get quite ugly . Both the senior leaders had raised serious concerns about the way that the party approached certain matters, such as ticket selection, expansion and disciplinary inquiries, but their dissenting opinions were also seen as a function of their ambitions. In particular, many in the party felt that Yadav had hoped to grab a larger role within the party, possibly even attempting to dethrone Kejriwal from the national convener post.

This ended up devolving into Kejriwal’s camp versus Bhushan and Yadav and in the process it emerged that AAP was recording calls between its leaders and journalists, and were even willing to use such conversations to fight the leadership battle. The mudslinging involved lots of names and allegations of anti-party behaviour and by the end most predicted that Kejriwal’s camp would  prevail comfortably, with Yadav and Bhushan expected to be booted out of the PAC and possibly be stripped of all responsibilities.

Right before the meet, Kejriwal announced that he didn’t want to be drawn into the ugly fight; his office stated that he wouldn’t be attending the meeting and would be jetting off to Bangalore for 10 days because of ill-health. In a classic Kejriwal move, he also offered his resignation as national convener.

The meeting itself, however, appeared to focus entirely on the matter of removing Yadav and Bhushan. Word trickling out from AAP leaders suggests the first few hours were spent entirely discussing the alleged anti-party activities of Yadav and Bhushan, and what the party needed to do about this.

The effort made was to have it seem as if AAP would be united, with Yadav and Bhushan willingly resigning from the PAC. This compromise had nearly been effected by senior leader Anand Kumar earlier in the week and would have avoided a vote. They would then have been offered posts, state convenor of Maharashtra for Yadav and legal cell head for Bhushan. But Yadav and Bhushan refused.

Senior leader Kumar Vishwas reportedly attempted to convince the two to take this route and allow the party to save some face. When it was clear this was not working, the party secretary moved a resolution calling for them to be removed from the PAC.

More change expected

The decision is, in many ways, incomplete because it leaves Yadav out of the political affairs committee, but still holding other posts such as chief party spokesperson – although that too is expected to change soon. Both have said that they will take other positions as the party decides, but how that will pan out remains to be seen.

It also leaves the party with more questions than answers. The meeting itself was preceded by a campaign from the Kejriwal camp, against Yadav particularly, attempting to paint him as a power-hungry politician who coveted the national convener post. Despite this, six people, in addition to Yadav and Bhushan, voted in their favour, making the final tally much closer than expected.

Kejriwal remains immensely popular and by far the biggest name in the party, but it is evident that there is support for dissenting voices within the party as well. Moreover, the dirty tactics that were revealed in the run-up to the national executive meet could end up leaving even those in the Kejriwal camp with a much bitter taste even in victory than they were hoping for.