A curious item turned up in the Indian Express' Delhi Confidential column on Friday. It suggested that, despite all the bad blood that had flowed between Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party rebel Prashant Bhushan, there might still be a chance that the two co-founders of the party could have a reconciliation.

The gossip column said that Kejriwal had been calling up other senior leaders in the party and suggesting that Bhushan, as well as his father Shanti Bhushan, who was also a cofounder, had been misled by fellow rebel Yogendra Yadav. What's more, Kejriwal was reportedly even telling people that the two could be convinced to return to the fold.

On Monday that possibility just got a lot more remote.

Having been issued a show-cause notice for alleged "anti-party activities," Prashant Bhushan has replied with a caustic letter that not only rebuts the allegations leveled at him – but goes on to criticise the very legality of all AAP decisions over the last few weeks. And to make things worse, Bhushan has even lobbed some counter-allegations, making claims about the party accepting crores of cash from shell companies without appropriate approval.

Showing Cause

In a letter to Pankaj Gupta, a member of the newly constituted disciplinary committee of AAP, Bhushan insisted that the National Council meeting of March 28, when he and fellow rebel Yogendra Yadav were booted off the decision-making body, was both illegal and unconstitutional. He followed this up by claiming that all decisions since then have been equally illegal, within AAP's structure, and so he doesn't recognise the disciplinary committee that had sent him the show-cause notice.
"You know Pankaj that you along with Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh had issued a Press release on March 10, accusing me and Yogendra Yadav of many of the same charges that have been made in your ‘Show Cause Notice’. Ashish Khetan had also leveled various charges against me which he subsequently apologized for. You now want to become judges of your own cause!"

Bhushan's letter goes on to point out that serious charges against Gupta, as well as Khetan, another member of the newly formed disciplinary committee, were not taken up by the party. His letter alleges that Gupta accepted Rs 2 crore in donations from "shell companies" without clearing these funds with the Political Affairs Committee as per party rules. He also pointed to Khetan's writing of an article in the weekly magazine Tehelka, effectively defending telecom company Essar in the 2G spectrum scam, claiming, without proof, that this effectively amounts to "paid news."

"Instead of removing Khetan from the party for this, he has now been rewarded by being appointed as the chairperson of the Delhi Dialogue commission and as a member of the National Disciplinary committee! And now Khetan and you will sit in judgement over us!" Bhushan said.

Back to the fold

Rumours have suggested for some time now that members of the Arvind Kejriwal camp, which has run AAP ever since it booted out Yadav and Bhushan from the PAC and the NC, had been attempting to split the two rebels up. Yadav is seen by those in Kejriwal's camp as the schemer who has political ambitions that clashed with Kejriwal's. Bhushan's rebellion, however, is considered more of an ideological disagreement rather than one of political ambition, which is why it has been suggested for a while that the party would be happy to have him back.

Bhushan himself has seemed unclear about what to do going forward, considering his potential outfit with Yadav would lack much of the popular base that AAP managed to build – effectively sending him back to the time when, as a crusading lawyer he fought relatively lonely battles – but following his reply to the show-cause notice, it is unlikely that a reconciliation would be on the cards anytime soon.