AAP heading for a split in future?

New Delhi, Aradhna Wal: Since the party held it’s first National Executive meeting in Delhi, on February 26, reports have been pouring out of rifts within the party. Sources witness to the meeting say that there was high drama and much ugliness at the way former friends faced off against each other. Sources say that two letters were written to the National Executive on the 26th, one by Bhushan and the other by Bhushan and Yadav together, which dna has access to.

It has become clear that Delhi CM and AAP National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal wants both Yogender Yadav and Prashant Bhushan out of the National Executive, the decision making body of AAP. Bhushan and Yadav have been bringing up questionable party practices, which has drawn Kejriwal’s ire. Though refusing to give details, Bhushan confirmed that the news reports are true and that he and Yadav had raised questions of “transparency, candidate selection, swaraj and regular meetings”. He added, “there is a problem and we have raised structural issues about the systems relating to the party.”

Bhushan’s letter severely indicts the party on multiple counts. He also warns it of becoming “just another one man centric party, which is prepared to use any kind of means to attain power”. Kejriwal’s growing cult of personality has been a cause of concern and Bhushan makes it a point to credit the volunteers of the party for the win. He also writes that this win is, “ the result of the dissatisfaction with the present BJP government which is now increasingly being seen as anti people.

Both letters rake up the funding scam AAP found itself in before the elections, where four cheques of Rs 5 lakh each were donated to the party by suspicious companies. These led to allegations of money laundering by the party.

The joint letter says, “The party was right to say that our dealing was clean and transparent. The media was right to say that these companies did not look genuine business entities. We had tasked the PAC with screening donations above Rs. 10 Iakhs precisely to save ourselves from such dubious donors. We now need to get to the root of these donations and find out if the PAC scrutiny mechanism failed and work out ways to avoid such an embarrassment in the future.”

Sources say that these cheques were never kept in front of the PAC. Bhushan calls out Kejriwal on overruling decisions taken by the National Executive: “the lack of recording decisions of the NE/PAC has led to situations where decisions taken by the NE (about not seeking Congress support for forming the government in Delhi after we resigned last year) were repeatedly flouted. Not only was a letter sent to the LG asking him to postpone the dissolution of the Assembly in June, but even as late as November, just before the actual dissolution of the Assembly, attempts were being surreptitiously made to seek Congress support to form the government again in Delhi without having to contest elections.”

The non existence of minutes of PAC and NE meetings were of major concern in both letters. “Even when the NE had decided to let the States decide whether to contest elections in their States, that decision was frustrated by Arvind deciding not to allow the states to contest elections… in his speech on the day of oath taking, Arvind announced that the party should not contest elections in other States for the next 5 years. Though that may be his view, but such public airing of views by the convenor of the party at such an important function would naturally be taken to be the view of the party.”

Saying that this violates the the party’s principle of swaraj, he adds,

“All this, along with the One person centric campaign which was run during this election in Delhi, is making our party look more and more like the other conventional parties.”

Sources say that Bhushan, his father Shanti Bhushan and Yadav still support expanding the party in other states. Bhushan questions how “many of our most dedicated volunteers are facing humiliation at the hands of people who call themselves office bearers and then misbehave with ow dedicated volunteers.”

Both letters also bring the issue of AAP’s missing gender parity, something party Lokpal Admiral Ramdas’s note also pointed out. Ramdas’ note had also mentioned the “ crisis brought about by Prashant Bhushan’s unhappiness with candidate selection and decision making processes.” Bhushan’s letter brings up the matter, saying that many old volunteers too were unhappy with these candidates being parachuted into the party.

Bhushan had placed a list of 12 candidates with criminal and/or corrupt backgrounds in front of the party before the Delhi Assembly elections. Of these, only two had been removed. His letter raises grave doubts about these MLAs: “Our own party had complained against several of them that they distributed money and liquor or beat up our volunteers in the last elections, when they had contested on the tickets of other parties. One of them (the original Wazirpur candidate) went back to the BJP within a few hours of our giving him a ticket. Another was implicated in illegally importing and storing liquor in the middle of the election. There was a video which surfaced about one of them where he is heard saying that it is okay to lure people to his Jan Sabha by offering them liquor. We did not cancel their tickets even after finding this out. One of them had been made the constituency prabhari and promised a ticket immediately after he agreed to take the rap for our party putting out a communal poster for which some of our volunteers were arrested. They are our current MLAs, and will be handling crores of MLA funds and will exercise several other powers such as giving PDS certificates etc.”

So angry are the two camps with each other that it seems they aren’t even talking directly. A three member committee comprising National Executive members Gopal Rai (also Delhi’s Transport and Rural Development Minister), Professor Arvind Kumar and Pankaj Gupta, has been constituted to communicate with Kejriwal, Bhushan and Yadav, to help them come to and relay decisions to others, explains Professor Kumar.

It is learnt that senior leader Ashish Khetan and Ashutosh most strongly took Kejriwal’s side, in opposition to Bhushan and Yadav. They argued to give Kejriwal a free hand to reconstitute the Parliamentary Affairs Committee. This decision was taken in another NE meeting on 27 February, which Bhushan and Yadav did not attend. There is a strong chance that with Kejriwal calling the shots, Bhushan and Yadav will lose their place in the PAC.