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1

Dear Arvind Kejriwal,

Today's "Historic Speech" disappointed me. I am glad of the main outcome - that you are planning to contest against Narendra Modi. I agree that Modi needs to be defeated soundly. However, today's speech could have been far more. I know you are not obliged to cater to expectations, but I do hope you will give these some strong thought.

The stress

There is an urgent need to pause and reorient. Granted that Aam Aadmi Party and you are under a constant barrage of challenges, both natural and man made, the fact remains that doing the wrong thing will be more damaging than a delay in doing the right thing. Somewhere, the traditional politics seems to be rubbing off, and this is not a welcome influence. It is the politics we are trying to escape. There is a tenseness today that was not present before, and to me it speaks of having little time to center and speak from purpose. In my view, this is urgent. Some space needs to be created to say what you want to say, instead of trying to beat a failed model at its own games.

The freshness of Aam Aadmi Party was its lack of focus on religion and other "identity bank" gimmicks. This is the party where Shazia Ilmi did not need to contest from a "Muslim area". Yet today's speech, in such a crucial moment visited Ram, Harishchandra, Eeshwar, Khuda and what not. It is not a core area of AAP, and it took up time that should have been spent on core issues. There is no need to "prove" anything about AAP's secularism, it is self-evident. Belaboring the point actually looks like an opportunistic mention of God, which I am dead certain was not the purpose, or it would have been tried well before this point.

Arvind, technology is a wonderful thing. A good mic will pick up your whisper. There is no need to stress your throat with trying to reach the audience with voice alone. More importantly, when you try to speak loud, you start talking like a speech - possibly an automatic reflex, which is not your best style. Your best style is the hundreds of speeches you have given that inspired people. Informal, straight talk. Countless interviews. The difference is visible. In one, you look relaxed, open, candid. In the other, you look tense, defensive, shrill. You need to get back to the old style. It brought you this far and served you well. It will take you through. No need to turn into a neta overnight.

Prioritizing content for historic events

Today was a historic event. This was the day the common man's party decided to put up its candidate against the other leading politician (Rahul Gandhi being the first one). It was a speech that will get referred to, brought up again as a landmark in Aam Aadmi Party's history. It should have been spent on content you want to make immortal. Swaraj, Jan lokpal, people ruling themselves through a party that serves as a conduit for their voice. Sure, there was a need to explain why Modi must be contested, but the rest of it - Akhilesh Yadav and Gujarat model and such could have been left out to make space for the priority - the foundations of Aam Aadmi Party and what makes it the common man's party. Criticism of Modi and Yadav and so on is really common. And there are abundant opportunities to do it. Interviews are a great place for that, for that matter. You didn't need to waste a historic event on the garbage AAP are planning to throw anyway. I confess I was waiting for a mention of Swaraj right till the moment the video ended. It never came.

No one is saying that UPA and NDA are not corrupt, or that their evils must not be placed before the people, but you failed to recognize a milestone in the history of Aam Aadmi Party and to use it strategically to state once more what unprecedented ideas it is offering to the people. It was even a time to speak of the candidates - a large number of whom are social activists, professionals in diverse fields, clean honest people few have heard of if you leave out the few famous names. Aam Aadmi Party has a visually impaired candidate as well as legends like Medha Patkar. Long suppressed people finding voice through Aam Aadmi Party like the anti-nuclear power protesters at Kudankulam or a victim of the state like Soni Sori. There is so much to tell people about why the Aam Aadmi Party is in their interest! This HISTORIC SPEECH should have at least touched these subjects - however briefly.

The people of Varanasi

This part is wishful thinking. I acknowledge that you have no means of reading my mind, and while I hinted on Twitter, I never made a proper suggestion that this be done. But, stating for the record, so that it may be included in future speeches in Varanasi:

Varanasi has inadvertently become the battleground of a National fight. Yet the people have local needs. You touched on their problems, but more was needed. An acknowledgment was needed that it is becoming a hot spot for helicopter candidates, including yourself, and of course, Modi. An apology would be appropriate that the people deserved to have their heros in the fight, but circumstances had brought it to this. The people deserved candidates who were dedicated to their region and its development specifically, if contesting from there. And you should have promised that you would see them as your own special people and give them that dedication, even though the AAP candidate was not a local in this instance. A belonging of the heart, if not your actual address and a promise that you would be there for their problems specifically and long term, and they were not being taken for granted for the larger good, while being deprived of their right to be represented in the Lok Sabha by a leader directly committed to their well being.

***

This sensitivity has usually been present in the party, and I can only think that like an over burdened horse cannot discern a leaf added to its burden, an overburdened person cannot perceive things not specifically mentioned. In this matter, I acknowledge that I failed AAP too, because I noticed, yet did not suggest.

I hope that these suggestions are taken in the spirit they are offered. I do wish AAP to thrive and upend the traditional politics of India so that something more wholesome and enriching may emerge.

Vidyut

Update:

PS: I also think you need to ditch the gareeb-max immediately. False modesty serves no purpose. Statements like "main to bahut hi aam insaan hun" etc are not required. Any person who understands the country and current affairs knows that what you achieved is nowhere "mamuli". I understand your point that it is not about you as a person, but the process of change, but better expression needs to be found for that. Perhaps something like [Note: This is just an example]

"I was able to succeed, because the need I fought for resonated with many. There are many people who fight for change and lose and are forgotten. I just happened to come along at the right time, saying things many people needed to be said and the spark I lit took on a life of its on and is a wildfire. People didn't lose interest or lose hope - or maybe some instinct knows we are facing the abyss and there is no other real choice. It grew and grew and is still growing."

It is more accurate and honest than pretending that you did nothing. What you did has value. Incidentally it has enough value that you are asking for votes on its basis. Calling it insignificant does not help stress the importance of what is happening. False modesty is counter-productive at this point. Don't brag, but don't deny so obviously that it makes no sense either.

3

Aam Aadmi Party seems to be collecting all sorts of people you'd respect but not expect to see in politics. A fascinating mix of the best of the aam aadmi seems to be waiting to shine their influence on governance of a country they have done proud in other ways and people who have suffered odds against their interest now finding haven and of course many like us, with no specific problems but a lot of resentment against a politics that has treated us as little more than a vote cow.

Collecting here announcements of people joining Aam Aadmi Party that I found interesting.

CEO of Hero Motors Pawan Munjal and CEO of Sony television Sameer Nair join AAP.

Former chairperson and CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS, India), Meera Sanyal joins AAP.

V Balakrishnan joins Aam Aadmi Party after stepping down from the board of Infosys.

Grandson of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and son of Congress leader Anil Shastri left his job as the sales head in Apple Inc to join the AAP.

Retired Navy Officer Vinod Kumar Bhardwaj, former VP, IT & Telecommunications at Mahindra have joined #AAP in Himachal Pradesh.

Retired Army Col. Rajendra Singh joins AAP Bangalore.

Lt Gen H S Panag has joined the Aam Aadmi Party.

Music runs through the soul of India, where people know thousands of songs without even realizing they learned them somewhere. When artists and musicians join a political movement (as opposed to paid or quid pro quo performances), I think it is a good sign. It symbolizes that the movement has space for sensitivity.

Vishal Dadlani performed live for AAP’s concert in Delhi.

Kailash Kher composed an anthem for Aam Aadmi Party.

Remo Fernandes joined Aam Aadmi Party.

Mallika Sarabhai, noted dancer who pissed off the Gujarat government (and got cases framed against her in turn) joins Aam Aadmi Party.

Medha Patkar, activist joined AAP.

Capt. Gopinath (Remember Air Deccan?) joins Aam Aadmi Party.

Prominent Indian TV journalist Ashutosh, ex-managing editor of IBN7 has officially joined AAP.

“Flying Sikh” Milkha Singh’s wife and daughter (based in US) have joined Aam Aadmi Party, though the legend himself wishes to keep distance from politics.

Obviously, there are plenty I missed, and if you comment, I'll add them in.

10

Gunasekar C Rajaratnam, among the earliest volunteers of Aam Aadmi Party has been making allegations regarding National Executive Member and State Convenor for Tamil Nadu, Ms Christina Samy. The nature of allegations span cronyism, excessive expenditure when less expensive alternatives were available and unaccountability with funds, among other impropriety. He further alleges that when they tried to get attention over these complaints, several volunteers received letters on the 7th of January 2014 that terminated their membership from of Aam Aadmi Party retrogressively from the 1st of September 2013.

I have obtained a copy of the letter sent by Gunasekar C Rajaratnam to Christina Samy detailing these complaints dated 3rd August 2013, and the allegations all appear to be very specific, verifiable and actionable. It is unclear why the Aam Aadmi Party has not confronted them head on in typical style and got to the truth of the matter one way or the other transparently.

I am reproducing the letter here in the hope that the added visibility to these complaints adds strength to the voices insisting that the values that inspired them to sign up to Aam Aadmi Party be upheld, and a clear and appropriate resolution to this matter is found at earliest. Tamil Nadu has Aam Aadmis with great needs as well, and it is important that this political revolution not be denied to them.

 

Gunasekar C Rajaratnam
Volunteer, Aam Aadmi Party
21, Padmavati Nagar, Agraharam
Korattur, Chennai - 600076
Ph: +91 917 619 6799 email: crguna@gmail.com

To
Ms Christina Samy
National Executive Member and State Convenor
Aam Aadmi Party-Tamil Nadu

Dear Christina Samy,
I write this after much agonising since May 2013. I write this as an ordinary party member because I believe that AAP has the culture of accountability to ordinary members.

Some members of your own hand-picked state committee have raised valid questions about your way of leading the party as well as questions on your integrity and honesty.

I have co-signed one of their complaints to the National Executive. I would like to raise some of those complaints with you as well as some complaints out of my own experience volunteering at AAP office in chennai for a brief period.

1. Impropriety

a. Conflicts of Interest

You have nominated Mr. Samuel as a State Committee member and given him the responsibility of handling party accounts. Mr. Samuel has also been the auditor of your family run Arreds Trust and other NGOs. With due respect to the professional integrity of Mr.Sam, it is a conflict of interest to nominate him to the state committee.

There are other reports of such conflicts of interest in appointment of your relatives, employees of your family run trust and others close to you to the state and district committees.

b. Huge expenses & Not maintaining accounts

AAP is a party of limited means and frugality is expected in expenses however luxurious our personal spending has been. You claim to have invested large sums of your own as well as borrowed money for the party. When I demanded that you account for all contributions donations and expenses, you claimed that AAP National Executive has not yet allowed you to start accounting. When I offered to keep accounts in the office you said that Mr. Sam has been authorised to keep accounts.

I had offered my first floor as office space. you did not like the location. You instead made Mr. Narayanan contribute a huge advance and monthly rent. You also spoke of Mr. Narayanan's contribution as a quid-pro-quo in return for making him District convenor and I am sure Mr. Narayanan expected no such favour. Such quid-pro-quo is alien to AAP's culture as a political party. Also Mr. Narayanan's donation could have been put to better use. (you have not accounted these donations or issued receipts to him till I left in May.)We could have found more voluntary offers of space as mine.

I am told that you have budgeted 65 lakhs expenses for the first year. This amount is ridiculously high and not beffittng a common man's party that has not even started growing.

You have conducted a training workshop for AAP with hired faculty. What is the source of funding for the training. Have you made any proposal from your NGO to some International donor? please note it is illegal to obtain foreign funding for political activity in India.

When members ask for accounts you have not responded and I never saw any accounts kept in the office.

c. Donation Receipt books

AAP treasurer had authorised numbers of donation receipts. You had printed 2 extra receipt books with aditional unauthorised numbers. To prevent misuse of the extra donation receipts please send the unauthorised donation receipt books to National Treasurer.

2. Media boycott of AAP Tamil Nadu

I am shocked that even before our party has started growing, the Press Council has started boycottong AAP events. You have not done anything to correct the situation and the press remains angry with AAP despite our co-convenor apologising in writing for misbehaviour with the press. I have personally warned you earlier about the attitude and behaviour of our co-convenor within the party. Other members too have complained often. This alone will finish the growth of our party in the state if not corrected.

3. Organization Culture

AAP nationally has evolved a culture of equality, respect, transparency, openness and sharing. You wish to run the party in a secretive manner. You have even kept information on district commttee formation a secret that state committee members are kept in the dark. One of them had to approach me to download the information from AAP fb group.

You also have an aversion to allow the party to grow and add new members. The old IAC people were openly prevented from joining the party. We lost hundreds of young potential volunteers due to your hate of most IAC supporters.

Mr. Manimaran was misled by you for a long time and I am told you now feel he and his organization should be sent out of the party. You may have valid reasons but you need not have invited him to State committee meetings and toured his districts and collected gifts of shawls.

You also fear protesting against the State Government on any issue. I am aware that you are afraid of losing Govt. funding for your NGO projects.

You also are ideologically opposed to M.K.Gandhi and objected to using his image on party handbills. I am not aware of such ideological aversion to Gandhiji elsewhere within AAP.

That AAP does not have a party flag and we use the National Flag is a practice that has attracted millions of non-political people to us. Your attempts to change the culture is unfortunate.

You fondly share the stage at public events with MDMK leader Vaiko which has spread the impression that AAP will be in alliance with Vaiko. I am certain this is detrimental to the party's interest and no such policy has been decided by the party.

Your vindictive behaviour against some active members of AAP also has often dismayed me.

I will restrain myself from listing more serious complaints that have not yet been convincingly presented to me.

I was disappointed with your leadership and I had therefore requested you to relieve me from the state committee. I am told that I have not been removed yet.

I Demand

I therefore demand the following from AAP National Executive regarding Tamil Nadu as a member of the party.

1. Removal of Christina Samy from all positions based on impropriety charges.

2. Dissolution of the state committee and district committees that are not functioning and establishment of a new honest leadership.

3. Changes at the national level to processes and systems in the party.

At the National level

National Executive of AAP as well as state, district committees are initially top down preparatory bodies. The selection of these people has been based on their reputation known to the initiators of the party like Arvind, Yogendra Yadav or the national executive member from the state.

Unfortunately this process has an inbuilt bias. I demand the following
.
1. Reputation Audit of each National Executive, state and district committee member by publicly posting their profiles as well as an enquiry in their previous work area.

2. Seeking feedback from public will not only strengthen the choice and eliminate bad choices but also create an involvement in the public and interest in AAP. Local news paper advertisements and press releases will mobilise mass support in new territories.

3 In my view the theoretical party structure described in the AAP constitution..will never get implemented. We will not see inner party democracy till 2016 maybe never under present arrangement. More work is needed to improve this.

4. It is not an acceptable excuse to say we are busy with 2014 elections and will establish inter party democracy later maybe. If a massive exercise can be created to verify good candidates for election to hundreds of constituencies, we can surely do the reputation audit for our party office bearers in each district and then elect a state committee.

5. The current attitude of AAP National Executive seems to be: We registered the party. We are answerable to Election Commission and other authorities. We have a right therefore to decide who gets nominated. If you don't like it get out of the party.

I plead with AAP the following:

Yes your hard work and sacrifice made this party. I am just pointing out that you created a great precedence in selecting Delhi candidates by sort of taking public feedback. Please do that for your office bearers too. Use your own discretion too but take public feedback.

thank you for reading.
Regards

Gunasekar Rajaratnam
A signed copy sent to Original addressee
email sent to Some National Executive members and state committee members