AAP in Turmoil
FOR AAM AADMI THE PARTY IS OVER
By Amba Charan Vashishth
When in February this year CM Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) obliterated Congress and badly mauled BJP in Delhi assembly elections, it appeared as if, at least in Delhi, the party is over for both the national parties and it would well nigh be impossible for both to challenge it for the next decide if not more. But in just one month of power,it now the scenario seems to have reversed. The party which witnessed a meteoric rise appears to be coming down like a meteor to crash on the ground with a thud.
Initially, the creators of AAP generated a great euphoria. Hum aam aadmi hain jiI, Kejriwal would stress in every public meeting. We are not like all others, we are different, transparent. Our policies will be decided by you (people). Who will fight the election will be decided by you. Our election manifesto will be drafted by you, not us. That was his repeated rhetoric. That appeal to the people. That clicked with the voter. Today, recalling those pious words looks ironic. It attracts snide comments.
Whether the allegations against Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav, Admiral Ramdas who have been removed from the National Executive, are true or not, and to what extent, no one can say for sure. But what dismayed those who had faith in the party was the ugly spectacle of lack of internal democracy and transparency in the party. Those expelled were neither served any charge-sheet nor given time to reply to the charges and nor opportunity to present their case in the meeting. Strong arm tactics were used. Bouncers were there — and were allegedly used — to browbeat the dissenters. They were summarily dismissed and dishonoured. Sufficient to speak of the kind of democracy and decency in the AAP.
Kejriwal set the tone with a "sentimental" speech exhorting those present to "choose between them and me". He even threatened to leave the party. Nobody else was allowed to speak — for or against — on the motion to expel the founding fathers of the party. He gave substance to the opposition charge that Kejriwal Party is a replica of the self-righteous naxalites-maoists on prowl in the streets of Delhi. He presented himself as indispensable to the party and government. He wanted to be the unchallenged boss against whom nobody should dare raise a voice or finger. All through, Kejriwal had decried personality cult in other parties. But he himself ignited this very cult when he called upon the party workers to choose between him and his detractors.
We have heard of people being asked to attend a meeting of which they are members. But AAP created a history by asking some inconvenient members not to attend the national executive meeting at Delhi.
AAP could not succeed in having the Delhi government or the Central government to enact a Lokpal bill. But it did earn the distinction of being the first political organization to have an internal Lokpal in the person of Admiral Ramdas. But AAP again made history when it directed its own Lokpal not to attend the meeting and, later, removed him. Prashant Bhushan has described all this as dictatorial and reminiscent of "Stalinist purge".
Kejriwal in an audio clip released recently threatened to leave the party and form a new one. Suffice to say about his love and commitment to the party he created and the arrogance of power that had crept in his personality. He used filthy and fowl language against his opponents.
Disgusted at the "tamasha" and alleging that "political principles are being trampled upon in the party," veteran social activist Medha Patkar resigned from AAP. There are reports of fissures within the AAP state units of Punjab, Maharashtra and elsewhere.
The goings-on in the party have given the impression as if AAP is going broke ideologically, politically and financially. That is why like worried creditors many have started asking for return of their investment. One NRI has demanded back Rs. 2 lakh he donated. He also wants the Wagon-R car he gifted and which Kejriwal rode famously to be returned to him.
Similarly, the person who created the broom logo for AAP has asked Kejriwal to stop using the same. "I designed the logo but I don't want the party to use it anymore. I was working for a party which stood for certain values" which today stand abandoned.
It is difficult to say whether for AAP it is the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning. ***
The writer is a Delhi-based political analyst.