AAP's Meeting On March 4th Might Decide Fortunes Of Leaders

02/03/2015 9:37 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, or Common Man’s Party, Arvind Kejriwal, center, waves to the crowd as his party looks set for a landslide party in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015. The upstart anti-corruption party appeared set to install a state government in India's capital in a huge blow for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist party. As early trends pointed to an overwhelming win for the AAP, the party's jubilant supporters began cheering and dancing in celebration, yelling "Five Years Kejriwal.” (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

On February 10, the Aam Aadmi Party scored a win so decisive that it created history in Delhi for the sheer margin of victory. Its leaders stood together, and the party appeared united and ready to govern.

Today, the party's leaders stand at loggerheads. A couple of leaked letters by Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan show high levels of discontent over chief minister Arvind Kejriwal's decision-making. Another letter, by Delhi state secretary Dilip Pandey saying Yadav, Bhushan and his father were conspiring to remove Kejriwal as national convenor, has also been leaked. Clearly, there were differences simmering below the surface that have now burst into the open between two factions in the party.

The Kejriwal faction wants Yadav and Bhushan out of the party, according to reports. The opposing faction wants Kejriwal removed from the post of national convenor and hold just one post, that of chief minister. Others are hoping that the founding members of AAP can resolve their differences over the direction of the party with Kejriwal.

A fourth letter, written by Admiral Ramdas, former Navy chief and party’s internal Lokpal, has added more credibility to reports of serious differences between the two factions.

“During the past six to eight months, there has been an abject breakdown in communications and mutual trust amongst the topmost leadership of the party. This has in my view led to the growth of two camps within the party and loose talk about conspiracies. This is unacceptable and shows that we are no different from any of the parties whom we criticise so vocally.," he said in the leaked letter.

"I sincerely urge the entire leadership of the party… to stop listening to rumours and to discourage colleagues… who continually bring negative feedback about each other,” Ramdas said in the letter.

The focus is now on March 4, when AAP will hold its national executive meet and this issue will be on top of the agenda. The future of Yadav and Bhushan might also be decided then.

"Constant leaks of letters written by party members has made the party look like a joke," AAP spokesman Sanjay Singh said.

Yadav and Bhushan's letter supports creating an ethics committee to look into four donations of Rs 50 lakh each received by AAP which were later found to be from suspect companies, and had caused a controversy before the elections, though it did not diminish AAP's performance. The letter also talks about dubious practices by the party's candidates, among other issues such as wider gender representation.

Bhushan's letter is more critical of Kejriwal, questioning efforts to get the support of Congress before elections. "Before the dissolution of the Delhi Assembly, attempts were made surreptitiously to seek Congress support to form a government without having to contest elections." Bhushan also accuses Kejriwal of not going ahead with contesting Haryana elections despite the national executive's decision to do so. "Even the National Executive had decided when to allow the states and when to contest elections but that decision was frustrated by Kejriwal by not allowing the states to contest elections. We made mockery of the principles of democracy and swaraj," Bhushan said.

Pandey's letter alleges that Bhushan and his father provided legal assistance to AVAM, a group that made accusations of donations from dodgy companies to AAP in the run up to Delhi elections. "Shantiji and Prashant gave legal and all other kinds of assistance to AVAM to carry out activities against the AAP," he said.

Delhi convenor Ashutosh has called this a rift of ideas which might decide the future politics of the party. Yadav has denied reports of serious differences.

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