Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) founder member Kumar Vishwashas hit out at party supremo Arvind Kejriwal, saying that the party does not belong to "a coterie of 2-3 persons" but to lakhs of its workers.
In open defiance of the party leadership, Vishwas, who was appearing in Rajat Sharma's show "Aap Ki Adalat", telecast on Saturday night on India TV, said: "AAP does not belong to a coterie of two or three persons, it belongs to lakhs of workers waiting outside.
"Two or three persons may be speaking out against me, the common party worker may be addressing any leader as 'ji', but he addresses me as 'Kumar bhaiya', and this is my strength in the party".
On January 3 when the AAP named veteran leader Sanjay Singh, businessman Sushil Gupta and chartered accountant Narain Dass Gupta as its debutants for the Rajya Sabha, Vishwas had expressed his disappointment over not being considered for the Upper House and claimed he was being "punished" for speaking the truth.
Poet-turned-politician Vishwas in the TV show listed out several instances in the recent past when he was sidelined by the party leadership.
"In Punjab, I had written poems against drug trafficking. I requested our leaders at least five to six times to allow me to campaign there, but I was not allowed to campaign in Punjab. I was told that the 'fanatic movement' in Punjab was unhappy with me."
In Delhi, AAP did not lose MCD polls because of me, there were deficiencies in the party's policies and strategy, he added.
The dissident AAP leader said he had opposed Kejriwal when he had demanded that the Narendra Modi government must produce evidence of the surgical strike against Pakistan.
"I told him (Kejriwal) it was a question of our troops' morale, and he (Kejriwal) replied, Modi should go first, then everything will be okay. This was his outlook....
The AAP leader said the question was not of (being denied ticket to) Rajya Sabha but for the last seven months, he had been reduced to "a mere pawn".
"I did say in the past that I am not in politics for posts or power... but I did not say while joining politics that the fruits of my seven years of struggle will be handed over to 'Ajgar chhap' (python-like) Guptaji (Sushil Gupta)."
Asked what was his fault for not being considered for Rajya Sabha, he replied with this Urdu couplet: "Mere lahze mein ji-huzoor na tha, Isse zyada mera kasoor na tha (my only fault was that I was never sycophantic)."
Vishwas admitted that he had once said, that out of the top three (in AAP), one became the Chief Minister, the other Deputy Chief Minister, and he (Vishwas) was left out.
Asked by Sharma why he, as "a younger brother", did not speak to Kejriwal, Vishwas replied: "I tried, but could not talk. Yogendra (Yadav) was his elder brother, Anna Hazare was like his father, and I his younger brother. I still wish that he remains a leader, and let the party expand."
On being asked why Arun Shourie, Raghuram Rajan, and Yashwant Sinha were approached for Rajya Sabha tickets by AAP, but they declined, Vishwas replied: "There was a time when big leaders lent us support saying we were part of a big battle."
"We should understand why as many as 18 leaders refused this time to accept our party's ticket. Raghuram Rajan is a great man, but when his PA conveyed that he does not want the ticket, it was an insult to our party. An insult to the toil of lakhs of party workers.