What does Atishi Marlena’s letter mean?
Atishi Marlena wrote a letter to Prashant Bhushan pretty much declaring a parting of ways and in the grand tradition of Aam Aadmi Party, the letter is in public domain. Several of Arvind Kejriwal’s supporters have been demanding that I comment on it. Presumably because they think it is a pro-Kejriwal letter or something.
Here are my thoughts on the letter.
Prashant Bhushan refused to compromise with the Kejriwal faction because of Shanti Bhushan
This is rubbish. Prashant Bhushan saying that can at best mean that he used it as an excuse. I don’t, for a minute buy that Prashant Bhushan is incapable of making independent decisions. Even if he was, I fail to see how this is relevant to me.
Sanjay Singh, the hero
This comes as a surprise. Given that Sanjay Singh was publicly busy attributing all sorts of intentions to Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, the idea that he was secretly negotiating an agreement – that too an agreement that involved Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav tendering a public apology sounds like a hallucination.
More likely, he got the Kejriwal faction to agree to it, but Prashant Bhushan did not buy. Probably provoked by using a known trigger – his father’s name. Given Kejriwal’s august views about Bhushan and Yadav, I am unable to comprehend why anyone fails to comprehend the refusal.
The mythical agreement
There is a description of an agreement to fulfill Prashant Bhushan’s demands. This, in itself screams that it is not the interest of Aam Aadmi Party. These demands are old, unfulfilled. Even now, the party hardly seems interested in fulfilling them for itself. It seems to be more of a handout to the holdouts. I understand from this that now that the agreement is not happening, the demands no longer need to be fulfilled, because the Kejriwal faction apparently has no sense of ethics of its own.
Prashant Bhushan is right to bring up previously broken commitments. This does not speak of the party’s interest in the reforms themselves, more like something they are willing to tolerate in order to shut up the spoilsports.
Would have been nicer if the party went for an agenda of reform independently of the fate of Bhushan and Yadav, but that seems too much to hope for. The party has changed, and does not seem to be interested in old goals without duress.
Where does this leave dissenters?
Dissenters are not a monolith. As I have remarked earlier, there are multiple goals among them. There are those who would simply like to see Kejriwal, Bhushan and Yadav to no longer be fighting. An agreement such as the one Atishi described would make them happy. That it failed will probably disappoint them, if there is any disappoint left in them after the last month.
For those insisting on procedure, the agreement was irrelevant completely – which is my disinterest in this letter as well. To follow procedure, the party does not need Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav to agree to anything. They need to take their allegations and proofs in front of their formal authority and go through whatever process required for establishing guilt or innocence and act on the basis of that.
Without following due process, even if Kejriwal and Bhushan-Yadav reach an agreement, at best what it would mean would be that they are fine with processes being bypassed as long as they are not excluded. Unless of course their removal was reversed as well – which is unlikely and probably unwise.
All that the letter achieves is to show that for all AAP’s commitment to democracy, there are actually very few people who understand it or are interested in learning. I could have lived without this further confirmation, particularly from someone who had been considered intellectually sound so far.
But mostly, for all practical purposes, this letter has no impact on my assessment of the AAP crisis.