New Delhi, March 10, 2015 (PTI)  The widening internal rift in the AAP today again came to the fore with the party top brass launching a scathing attack on Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, accusing them of working for the party's defeat and maligning the image of Arvind Kejriwal.

In a first official statement by top party leaders since the infighting came out in the open, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Transport Minister Gopal Rai, party's General Secretary Pankaj Gupta and Sanjay Singh defended the national executive's decision to oust Prashant and Yadav from the political affairs committee (PAC).

"The trio, especially Prashant called up volunteers from other states and told them not to campaign for the party.I will not be campaigning for the party this time.You guys also don't campaign. It is necessary for the party to lose.It is only then Arvind (Kejriwal) will get some sense," the leaders said in the statement.

"In front of Anjali Damania (AAP leader from Maharashtra), he told the same to workers of Mysore.Those funding the party were discouraged from doing so," said a joint statement by the four AAP leaders. Prashant and Yadav were voted out from the party's PAC last week.The proposal to drop the two was introduced by Sisodia, seconded by Singh and supported by nine others including Gupta and Rai.

A section of the party headed by Arvind Kejriwal had alleged that the trio wanted to remove Kejriwal from the post of National Convenor.

"Two weeks before the election, when (AAP leader) Ashish Khetan called up Prashantji and requested him to head party's Delhi Dialogue initiative, Prashantji said that he wanted the party to lose and win only 20-22 seats.If the party loses only then the leadership will get some sense," the leaders claimed. They claimed that Prashant would also threaten to call a press conference in the midst of a heated election campaign.

"For three days, 10 senior AAP leaders were trying to convince them not to address any press conference as this would have a negative impact on the party. At a time when the BJP and AAP were engaged in a cut throat battle, senior leader were busy convincing them and wasting their valuable time," the leaders alleged. 

The party said that it was compelled to come out in the open despite taking a decision not to go before the public and as the two leaders were giving statements to the media.

"They were trying to portray as if the decision to drop them from the PAC was irresponsible and undemocratic," the leaders said.

The leaders claimed that the party has ample evidence that Yadav tried to malign Kejriwal's image and tried to portray a negative side of the organisation.

"Some senior editors in private have also said that during the Delhi election, Yadav again tried to malign Kejriwal's image by giving off the record information," the leaders charged.

Lashing out at Shanti Bhushan, the leaders said that the AAP leader not only spoke in favour of BJP's chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi but also supported a breakaway faction AAP Volunteers Vichar Manch.

"A few days before the election, Shanti Bhushan ji said he trusted Kiran Bedi more than Arvind (Kejriwal).All party workers were stunned listening to his statements.Volunteers started asking what was he doing in the AAP if he supported Bedi.He also gave many statements against Arvind," the leaders claimed. 

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