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New Delhi: Who is Vinod Kumar Binny?

He is one of the 28 MLAs from Delhi, who is now holding the future of the fledgling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to ransom.

Binny first rebelled when he was passed over during cabinet formation in the first week of January. A few weeks later, the 39-year-old member of the legislative assembly (MLA) from Laxmi Nagar in East Delhi is back in business, and this time with greater ferocity.

This time, unlike after his first revolt, it looks like there is no turning back. In a no-holds barred press conference, he lashed out at Arvind Kejriwal, the founder member of AAP and the chief minister of Delhi. Ironically, assuming the very form and employing almost identical tactics that Kejriwal employed so effectively in his political campaign, Binny accused his party of failing to walk the talk.

Specifically, he has questioned AAP for not following up on its promise to prosecute the preceding Congress—which supports the minority AAP regime from outside—government headed by Sheila Dikshit

“I am unhappy over issues, issues that the party (AAP) has now deviated from. Promises that we made in front of the people got changed in the manifesto and which further got changed when we formed government," Binny said in interview.

Binny is a veteran compared with his other colleagues, most of whom made their political debut with the AAP.

“In 2007 and 2012, I was elected as an independent. During 2009 to 2011, the Congress party supported me but I was never their member," Binny said.

Officials who have worked with him during his ward councillor days say he was good at the job he was doing and never showed any signs of giving in to self-interest.

“He was known to be good and he did his work well. He did not interact with people he did not need to. As a genuine councillor, he would raise the relevant issues whenever required," a municipal corporation department (MCD) official said, requesting anonymity.

During the run-up to the Delhi assembly elections, Binny was often known as the candidate who would certainly win and so he did with a stunning performance. In Laxmi Nagar constituency, he defeated sitting minister and Congress strongman Ashok Kumar Walia, who had the health portfolio with him, by a margin of much over 7,000 votes.

Last month, a visibly upset Binny had walked out of a meeting from Kejriwal’s Ghaziabad residence. The meeting, a critical one, was held to decide the minority government’s list of cabinet ministers. Binny could not make it to the list.

The party had a tough time to putting up a united face, going to the extent of the MLA attending the party briefing the next day and being hailed as “one of the most important and selfless" leaders of the party.

On Wednesday, the tone of the party and its chief changed quite a lot, suggesting the rebel may have crossed the proverbial red line; though by expelling him from the party would leave the government on the edge of survival. In the heated exchanges, it is becoming a situation of Kejriwal’s word against Binny’s.

“There’s nothing I can do about what he is saying. First, he had come for ministership. We refused. After that, he wanted to contest the Lok Sabha polls. He came to my house to ask for the ticket. The party has decided that all sitting MLAs would not be given tickets for the Lok Sabha polls," Kejriwal told reporters.

Being an elected ward councillor in the past, Binny is one of the few popular leaders in the AAP who has a political background.

Binny, a resident of Vasundhara Enclave in the eastern part of the city, is married to Suman Bala, a homemaker. They have two children, Rishab and Sanjeevani, according to the affidavit filed by him in the assembly elections. A graduate from Motilal Nehru College of Delhi University, Binny’s ward councillor career was marked with mohalla sabhas (neighbourhood meetings)—a key element of the governance model adopted by AAP.

Part of Binny’s disenchantment comes from the fact that he feels Kejriwal has become inaccessible. “I put in a request for a meeting in his office on Tuesday morning and I have not heard from them yet," he said on Wednesday.

“Each have their own views. Some are sycophants, some are honest...some people change, their tones change and such people are not worth the trust," he said, without naming anyone.

Binny’s relatives predictably believe that he has been wronged by the party.

“He is genuinely upset and rightly so. First he was promised he would be given a ministerial berth. The party backed out in the last hour. Being a senior leader who joined the party in its initial days, he has not got his worth," a close relative of Binny said, also declining to be named.

For the party that was formed as an offshoot of the anti-corruption movement with both Kejriwal and his now estranged mentor, Anna Hazare, holding a series of fasts to put their points forward, Binny hinted that he would not not hesitate to employ the same tactics.

Deja vu?

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