By Darshi Mehta, Government Law College, Mumbai.
With the advancement of science we have a new discovery every day. Expressing ourselves via open letters is the latest by-product of social networking sites. It comes as no surprise that AAP’s senior members are lashing out at each other and spilling party secrets to rub it in each other’s face through open letters.
After the 2012 anti-corruption movement a political party arose, AAP with sole objective to bring about political revolution in India. Since its foundation, AAP’s approach has been unconventional, focusing on the problems that the AAM AADMI in India faces and its solutions in the most apt ways. To form a Government which laid stress on self-governance, community building and decentralization, first and then pursued other interests.
The AAP with its convener Arvind Kejriwal went on to win the Delhi Elections in February, 2015.
The Party has been in the news recently not because of another unusual way they’ve used to reach their ends but, because of something that everyone suspected would happen ever since its formation, feud between its members.
PAC is AAP’s decision making panel, which, as of January, 2015 consisted of 9 members, Arvind Kejriwal, Yogendra Yadav, Manish Sisodia and Prashant Bhushan among others.
Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav and their followers feel that Arvind kejriwal is not paying heed to their complaints and is doing as he likes. Arvind Kejriwal’s followers feel that the duo and Shanti Bhushan have been conspiring against Arvind Kejriwal and AAP and are therefore ANTI-AAP.
However, there are three sides to this dispute that need to be addressed. First being Manish Sisodia and Deepak Pandey, Second that of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan and third of internal ombudsman Admiral Ramdas.
However Arvind Kejriwal’s take on the situation is still not clear as he has refrained from saying anything about the same, other than he wants nothing to do with this chaos.
Reliable rumours regarding the falling out have been coming for quite some time but it all came to surface when Yogendra Yadav a senior member wrote a letter stating reasons as to why he is resigning from the party. The letter criticized Arvind Kejriwal’s methods and stated all the shortcomings of the party in the light of aftermath of the 2014 Delhi Elections.
The key points in the letter are as follows:
- No difference between volunteers, newbie’s and experienced members. Absence of a platform to train them.
- Political Affairs committee being given all the importance and National Executive being neglected.
- However,the PAC’s decisions weren’t binding it’s just an advisory body, so basically no committee is to decide the major decisions of the party. And hence the working fell in the hands of one person, Arvind Kejriwal, eventually making the party one man centric, something that AAP has always been against.
- Lack of communication between the State and the Central leadership due to an absence of a clear chain of command.
- AAP’s short of proper organization building. Volunteers do not know what to do, where to go.
- Dearth of policy analysts.
- Major decisions of the party changing as per Arvind Kejriwal’s wishes, when he changes, needs of the party change.
The letter which reflects the deepened conflict of interests in AAP wasn’t taken well by Arvind Kejriwal’s followers and another letter was written as a reply to this one by Manish Sisodia, the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi.
The letter stated how unreasonable Yogendra Yadav was being, how writing a public email wasn’t the wise thing to do. That Yogendra Yadav’s resignation and all his accusations were a result of the fact that Arvind Kejriwal didn’t support him when there was a feud between him and Naveen Jai Hind.
It’s a fact that Naveen Jai Hind and Yogendra Yadav aren’t Seeing Eye to eye right now and many volunteers have witnessed them having arguments.
He concluded the letter by saying, “I don’t understand what you want to prove with these emails. Do you want to finish off the party? Do you want to win your personal battle with Naveen or do you want to finish off Arvind?”
Yogendra Yadav’s wrath was calmed by Arvind Kejriwal, for the time being. Even so the bitterness stayed.
Letters exchanged by the fellow party members reflected deep disagreements in the party on key issues.
The same issues came up again in December 2014, Prashant Bhushan expressed his discontent with the candidate selection process which if not addressed he declared that he would leave the party.
The situation was managed by the Lokpal as he made the members of the PAC and special invitees pledge they would not go public and will keep the internal differences to the party.
The situation was expected to diffuse on its own after AAP won the Delhi Elections but only got worse.
In his letter Prashant Bhushan brought attention on more shortcomings on the AAP’s part. He went out to say that, ’Arvind’s decisions may have been right in restrospect that does not detract from the fact that we made a mockery of the principles of democracy and Swaraj’. The letter which was dated 26/02 expressed the following concerns:
- The party was founded on transparency and accountability but they’ve put up the donations that the party received but not the expenses.
- Even the decisions of NEC and lists of candidates aren’t shared on the website.
- Irregular meetings of the NEC and PAC.
- Lists of candidates weren’t shared with PAC, whereas as per the constitution, PAC is to approve the candidates.
- In many meetings members of PAC aren’t even informed, PAC also lacks gender and regional diversity.
- Candidate selection process is not uniform and in many cases selected candidates have done things that the party doesn’t approve of like beating up AAP’s volunteers, distributing liquor and money in the last elections.
- Importing unreliable candidates from BJP and Congress over the candidates who were already members of the party
- Disobeying the rules of Swaraj, on the basis of which the party was formed by allowing decentralised decision making.
- The decision of whether to contest elections in other states was decided by the central authorities and the States weren’t given any say in the matter.
- One man centric campaign in the Delhi Elections sacrificing the principles of the party.
- Policies haven’t been finalized because of which volunteers aren’t able to speak on matters of national relevance.
- Lack of systematic planning for the usage of funds received by the party.
- Unethical means and practices used at times.
This letter exposed all the deep-rooted problems that the revolutionary party is facing from legislation to execution.
The duo also wrote a joint letter suggesting forming an ‘Internal Ethics Committee’ and to respect and abide the party’s constitution in the strictest sense. To strengthen inner party democracy and to solve all the issues in hand in the most credible and fair manner.
In a PAC meeting held in the first week of March,in which Arvind Kejriwal wasn’t present, members were to decide the result of all the accusations made against the duo, in which Bhushan-Yadav suggested that they leave the PAC but it should be reconstituted. This suggestion was rejected by the committee members and it was ruled that the duo to be kicked out of the committee effective immediately.
This has sparked debates on the functioning of the party. Meanwhile another party activist Dilip Pandey has written a complaint to the Party Disciplinary Commitee against the duo and Shanti Bhushan.
In the letter he accused them of conspiring against Arvind Kejriwal to remove him from the post National Convener. And facilitated the formation of AVAM, an anti-party forum and giving the same legal assistance in order to weaken the party. Also Yadav indulged in black-mail during candidate selection of going to the press.
He also claimed that Yadav wanted AAP to lose in the Delhi elections if that meant removal of Kejriwal from the post of Party Convener.
Lack of organisational framework is visible from the various letters that have been exchanged but what is concerning is the fact that AAP’s feud has become public, while the Aam Aadmi of this nation appreciates transparency but nobody likes tattle tellers.
Reply of those letters by Arvind Kejriwal is no less shocking, where instead of focussing on all the issues discussed by Yadav and Bhushan, their counter is solely based on how offended they feel about the one tiny para-graph on Arvind Kejriwal, which from the looks of it seems true.
He is undoubtedly the face of AAP, naturally everything goes through him, be it the decision to fight elections in other states or to let Yogendra Yadav lead the Haryana elections, which AAP miserably lost or kicking out the duo from the PAC.
We all just hope that the party which gave hope to the entire nation doesn’t end fighting among themselves.