AAP’s national hopes amid personality clash!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
Delhiites are confused once again with the unnecessary squabbles in AAP. They had very enthusiastically voted for AAP, expected more unity and cohesion in the party after the first ever massive mandate they gave to AAP but they, like naughty boys quarrel for selfish reasons as they are engaged in a self-image building battle forgetting that people of Delhi have not given them their valuable votes.
Kejriwal should now realize that god has not given him votes but the people of Delhi have chosen him and his party to rule, totally rejecting the faces in their traditional parties like BJP and Congress, for promoting AAP inner squabbles.
If the leaders of AAP really care for the significance of Delhi voters they would not have resorted to anti-voter squabbles.
It is indeed disrespect to Delhiites who stood long queues to make AAP leaders the ruling elite of Delhi state to government properly but they behave like small scale business guys..
Accusations against party leadership and removals of the accused by the party followed in the party causing strains in the rank and file of the party which is committed to the cause of common people.
Kejriwal’s climb-down from the high horse he had mounted at the Ramlila Maidan, when he publicly rebuked those advocating the party’s expansion, is not insignificant. Headstrong, impatient politicians like Kejriwal generally do not reverse decisions they announce publicly unless a volte-face becomes inevitable. The alacrity with which Kejriwal has swallowed his pride and words shows the pressure from the grassroot workers must have been immense and irresistible.
This is a rare instance of internal democracy performing a bloodless coup against an evolving dictatorship. Kejriwal’s unilateral decision to focus on Delhi was flawed from the very beginning. By vetoing future electoral battles, Kejriwal had ignored the cardinal rule of political warfare: you do not put together an army of volunteers and workers only to disband or send it back to the barracks.
A month after assuming power in the national capital, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) announced that it has decided to go national. Confirming the development, AAP leader Sanjay Singh told the media that the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) has decided to expand the party in other states, an issue over which senior leader Yogendra Yadav had earlier come under fire as he had favoured AAP spreading its wings in other states, but Kejriwal objected to the idea.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the PAC, the party’s top decision-making body, held at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Kaushambi residence. Five of the PAC’s seven members met at the residence of Kejriwal, who returned to the capital late on Monday after 12 days of naturopathy treatment in Bengaluru for his nagging cough and high blood sugar. (The 46-year-old Aam Aadmi Party leader was admitted on March 5 to the hospital on the city’s outskirts for treating his chronic cough and high blood sugar as he is a diabetic).
The Delhi CM also said that he was feeling fit and fresh and was excited to return to the national capital to resume his work. Battling infighting, the AAP decided to take steps to douse the flames of dissent by reaching out to senior leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan besides expanding the party in other states, one of the contentious issues behind the rift.
Those who took part in the meeting included Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia. Over the past few weeks, AAP has been embroiled in internal turmoil with leaders from both the camps making accusations and levelling allegations against each other.
AAP leaders hoped and maintained that the crisis in the party would soon end, and party leaders would reach out to Prashant Bhushan, who, along with Yogendra Yadav, was ousted from the PAC this month. The efforts for rapprochement by both the sides picked momentum following Kejriwal’s return. Sanjay Singh, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh and Ashish Khetan — all known to be Kejriwal loyalists — met Yadav and held discussions on several contentious issues. Both the camps termed the discussions as “positive”.
Kejriwal and Yadav also briefly interacted at a city court with Yadav and Bhushan who had extended an olive branch to Kejriwal by seeking a meeting with him and the AAP chief responded by saying that he will meet them “soon”. However, Bhushan wanted to meet only Kejriwal to sort out their differences. Kejriwal declined. Bhushan added that Kejriwal told him he was busy until the Budget session and will meet him thereafter.
However, in the party’s last National Executive on March 4, Yadav and Bhushan were voted out from the PAC over accusations of working against the party and trying to malign Kejriwal’s image.
At a meeting of the truncated political affairs committee of the party on March 16, Kejriwal and his coterie decided to contest elections “wherever the organisation is strong.” If the earlier resolve was rooted in ahankar, the decision to go national with a divided house is a sign that bloated egos in the AAP have been deflated. The oligarchy in the AAP has realized that volunteers also have a voice in decision- making; ignoring them would have been suicidal for both Kejriwal and his party.
During the Delhi election, volunteers from across India—and from many other countries—had participated in the campaign with the hope that this was the beginning of the war against established political parties and prevailing systems that work against the common people and promote the rich and corporate lords.
Democracy should mean a lot to common people in AAP. Kejriwal had, in fact, ignored the basic principle of Indian politics: a party can’t survive unless it agrees to share the benefits of power right down to the grass root level. To ensure loyalty and participation, parties have to devolve power and delegate responsibilities; they have to be built right from the bottom. But Kejriwal was trying to create a crony-heavy pyramid without a base.
One of the reasons why Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan were able to muster the support of a large number of party volunteers and state units (like Rajasthan, where the office-bearers had passed a resolution supporting them) was that they were seen advocating expansion and autonomy to state units. In Maharashtra, Karnataka and Punjab too, many local leaders were keen that the party consider Yadav’s argument.
In the parliamentary poll 2014, only Punjab could send four MPs to Indian parliament as the only MPs to represent AAP while Delhi had totally rejected the childish AAP leadership. Kejriwal is not happy about that. Volunteers and leaders in these units, who had bravely battled on for the party with the hope that their state’s turn would be next, were dismayed when Kejriwal did not even bother to seek their opinion. For a party founded on the principle of ‘Swaraj’, a leader who had sought the opinion of voters (even if it was a farce) before forming the government in Delhi in 2013, the decision taken behind closed doors was an unmitigated disaster.
In the end, Kejriwal has taken the right decision, but only after an acrimonious war with dissenters like Yadav and threats of rebellion from the state units.
It’s very difficult to fall apart and both sides now seem to be thinking on saving the ship. The collective will of the people should be honored and both Kejriwal and Bhushan-Yadav duo should arrive at a mutual understanding for the long-term benefit of the party, as AAP ignited hopes amongst millions.” The general will seems to be prevailing as the three – Kejriwal, Yadav and Bhushan – made a joint appearance in Karkardooma court in a defamation case where they refrained from making any public comment on each other.
Soon after waging a war among themselves, the factions within the Aam Aadmi Party have hit the reconciliation button following Arvind Kejriwal’s return from Bangalore. He has already held two separate meetings with the leaders of the two factions besides directing both not to go public with intra-party matters. While some in the party question why he let the matter fester, some believe it has worked well for him as a tactical move. His authority over the party is fully established now. He can play peacemaker with ease.
It’s the Prashant Bhushan-Yogendra Yadav camp which began the reconciliation bid when on Monday Bhushan sent a text message to Kejriwal stating that he wanted to meet him to discuss the latest developments. In the evening Kumar Vishwas, Sanjay Singh, Ashutosh and Ashish Khetan, leaders of the other faction, met Yogendra Yadav. This was the first such meeting after Bhushan and Yadav’s ouster from the party’s powerful political affairs committee. According to party sources, on Tuesday afternoon, leaders of both groups met again at Khetan’s residence.
True, apart from Kejriwal none of the party leaders makes any real difference to the party’s upward or downward swings. If party leaders show disrespect to party supremo it sends out wrong signals to the nation but that would not benefit the problem-shooters in any way, however.
People of Delhi expect their leader Kejriwal to listen to what they have to say before making policy or political decisions. After all, AAP belongs to Delhiites and Kejriwal and team only serve them.
CM Kejriwal may be happy now that AAP is purged of “dissidents” but this is only the beginning of the story for Kejriwal. More dissidents, unlike Bhushan and Yadav, even without any significant contribution to the party’s development may raise their voices against Kejriwal’s unilateral mindset, if he does not change it now..
Meanwhile, Delhiites may have a plan B as well. After all, it is their lives and prestige that are involved in the infighting of the AAP.
One hope some sense shall prevail in the party head quarters.