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Anjali Damania reported that she got a threatening call from a number in Pakistan, Karachi asking her to drop all cases against Eknath Khadse.

Transcript of the threatening call to Anjali Damania:

Caller: Anjali bol rahi hai?

Anjali: Haan...

Caller: Anjali, tune jo case kiya na khadse pe

Anjali: haan...

Caller: woh waapas le

Anjali: kaun bol raha hai?

Caller: Main koi bhi bol raha hun, tune jo case kiya hai na khadse pe woh waapis le saare case. nahi to tera main jeena haram kar dunga.

Anjali: bol kaun raha hai ya..?

Caller: [inaudible] tu family waali hai na?

Anjali: are par ye kaun, bol kaun raha hai?

Caller: Main koi bhi bol raha hun. woh jaanna tere liye jaroori nahi hai. theek hai? tune bahut jeena haram kar diya hai sabka

 

True caller shows the number to be from Pakistan.

This is the same number AAP had earlier alleged that Eknath Khadse received calls from Pakistan from. Hacker Manish Bhangale had claimed in a press conference that he had hacked the website of Pakistan Telecommunications to acquire that information. At that time, Eknath Khadse had claimed that his number was inactive and that someone may have cloned his SIM or that the hacker may have planted his number as well. That doesn't explain a call from the number now threatening Anjali Damania to withdraw the case against him.

The number shown in the service request appears to belong to Eknath Khadse.

a

Anjali Damania has lodged an FIR and informed the Chief Minister and Jt CP Crime is investigating the matter.

 

Statement by Aam Aadmi Party on threat to Anjali Damania

Khadse Dawood Nexus Exposed Once Again

AAP Condemns threat to Activist Anjali Damania

Press Note 23rd September 2017

In the wee hours of today morning activist Anjali Damania got a call from a Pakistan based number +92 21 35871719. The caller threatened her to withdraw all cases against BJPs Ex Revenue Minisiter Eknath Khadse. Anjali has shared the recorded call in which she and her family have been threatened. Subsequently she informed Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and he has asked Joint Commissioner Crime to investigate the matter.

The Aam Aadmi Party says that this kind of investigation is completely inadequate and the investigation must be handed over specialised agencies like, RAW or IB as this number is said to belong to Dawood Ibrahim.

Ethical hacker Maneesh Bhangale had said this number belongs to Mehjabeen Shaikh, wife of the Dawood Ibrahim and was registered in Karachi. Given below is an attachment that he had shared of a communication between Pakistan Telecom with Mehjabeen Shaikh regarding that same number. Maneesh had said that Eknath Khadse's mobile number was frequently called from this very number - +92 21 35871719. Further, media sources had shown that this number is noted as belonging to Dawood Ibrahim's residence in the files of Indian Intelligence agencies too.

When the AAP demanded that Maneesh Bhangale's claims be investigated the Joint Commissioner Crime had given Ekanth Khadse the fastest in the world - in just 4 hours. How can we expect the same department to do a thorough investigation to the threat to Anjali?! The Joint CP at that time, Atulchandra Kulkarni then moved to ATS where once again he failed to investigate the matter. Instead, on a flimsy complaint by Eknath Khadse's associate Ravi Bhangale, the Cyber Police arrested and is harassing Maneesh Bhangale till date.

This call to Anjali is on Ekanth Khadse's behalf, from Dawood's residence. What more proof is required that Ekanth Khadse and Dawood Ibrahim work together? What is more important is that the state has totally failed to provide safety to Activists and Journalists and we fear for the safety of Anjali Damania and her family. We demand that this investigation be handed over to a national agency which cannot be influenced by Eknath Khadse the way the state Crime Department was influenced in the past. Anjali Damania should be provided police security immediately. The whole state stands with Anjali in her crusade against corruption.

 

Sincerely

Preeti Sharma Menon

National Executive Member & National Spokesperson

Aam Aadmi Party

5

Prashant Bhushan wrote a devastating open letter to Arvind Kejriwal. For some reason, the media, while publishing "full text" managed to miss some. Parts in blue are missing in several news outlets like Times of India, Economic Times and NDTV - all of whom seem to have made similar omissions - more likely copied from the NDTV website (which has disclosed that they have edited the piece - one wonders why not do an article quoting from it instead of editing a letter by someone else. Sigh. Indian journalism.) without attributing source (In the grand tradition of Indian journalism). Source of this letter's text is "The News Minute"

Dear Arvind:

In the National Council meeting held on the 28th of March, in your Convenor's address, instead of giving a review of the party's situation and the path ahead, you chose to launch an attack on me, Yogendra Ji and my father, making all sorts of false and inflamatory allegations against us. Your speech incited several Delhi MLAs (who were invited despite not being members of the NC) to scream that we were “gaddars” who should be thrown out, and behave in the manner of hooligans. Such was the ferocity of the mob of these MLAs and others as they rushed towards my father, that he felt that he may not get out of this alive.

You did not even allow us to respond to your allegations. Immediately after your speech, in the middle of shouting and screaming by MLAs and others, Manish [Sisodia] read out a resolution for our removal (without any chair, and without anyone allowing him to do so). He then proceeded to call for vote by show of hands without allowing any discussion, forcing us to walk out of what had clearly become a farce.

It was farcical for many reasons: Many members of the NC had not been invited or allowed to attend; more than half the people inside the meeting hall were non-members, which included MLAs, district and state convenors of four states, volunteers and bouncers; there was no orderly conduct of the proceedings for many reasons, including the hooliganism displayed by many people there; no independent videography was allowed, the party's Lokpal was not allowed, etc.

What has happened subsequent to the 28th however, has taken the farce to a level where it seems as if a Stalinist purge is taking place in the party. The party's internal Lokpal, a person of immense stature and independence, has been removed unconstitutionally, merely because he expressed his wish to attend the National Council meeting and was seen to be fair; other members of the National Executive are being suspended, again unconstitutionally, only because they had attended a press conference held by us after the hooliganism in the National Council meeting.

Thereafter, you have ordered the release of a carefully edited version of your speech in the National Council meeting, containing various false charges against us, and carefully editing out the portions showing the hooliganism of the mob. It is in such circumstances that I am having to write this open letter to you.

In order to respond to your charges, I would need to go back a bit to see where my serious differences started with you. If you will remember, my differences started after the Lok Sabha elections, when a series of things happened, which began to show two serious defects in your character and personality. Firstly, you wanted to push through your decisions at any cost in the party, despite the majority of the PAC or the National Executive disagreeing with you. This included decisions that would have undoubtedly been very harmful for the party and against public interest. And secondly, you were willing to use some very highly unethical and even criminal means to achieve your ends.

After the Lok Sabha elections, you felt that the party was finished and could only be revived if it were able to form the government again in Delhi. So immediately after the elections, you started talking to the Congress party for taking its support again to form the government in Delhi. When news of this came out, a large number of important people in the party including Prithvi Reddy, Mayank Gandhi and Anjali Damania called me up saying this would be disastrous,and if this happens, they would have to quit the party. I was in Shimla at that time, I called you up, and I said that you should not go ahead with this unless there is a proper discussion in the Political Action Committee (PAC).

I immediately came back and we had a meeting of the PAC at your residence. And at that meeting, a majority of the members – 5:4 – felt that we should not go ahead with forming the government with Congress’ support. I had pointed out that this would seem extremely opportunistic, since there was no logical reason for us to change our publicly stated position. I also added that such a government would not last, as the Congress will withdraw support soon, and thereafter, for us to revive the party would become even more difficult.

Instead of abiding by the majority decision, you said that while that may be the majority view, as the Convenor of the party, you have the right to take the final decision, and that you would go ahead with seeking Congress’ support. At that point, I had a verbal argument with you. I said the party can’t be run in this manner, and it has to be run by some democratic means. So it was decided to refer this issue to the National Executive which had many more people. This reference was made by email, and people were expected to vote by next morning. By next morning, again a majority of people opposed this decision in the National Executive and yet, a letter was secretly sent by you to the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi saying that he should not dissolve the Assembly for another week because AAP wants to seek the opinion of the people on whether to form the government again.

Immediately after the letter came out, Congress said they were not ready to support AAP and that left us with egg on our face with the result that you had to backtrack the next day and apologize. But despite that, the attempt to form the government with Congress’ support or with the support of breakaway MLAs from the Congress continued, as is clear from the sting tape of Rajesh Garg which shows you were wanting to form the government with the support of those MLAs whom you had yourself accused of having being bought over by the BJP for Rs 4 crore each. How could you even think of forming a government with the support of such people! And this went on till as late as November, just before the dissolution of the Assembly. In November you called Nikhil Dey and asked him to speak to Rahul Gandhi to convince him to get the Congress party to support. But Nikhil told you that he can’t talk to Rahul Gandhi on this issue.

Can you deny any of these facts? All this, showed your willingness to go against majority opinion, break all democratic rules of the party, and seek unethical support of MLAs whom you yourself had accused of being corrupt, all in the pursuit of power at any cost.

Then came the issue of communal posters. A poster accusing the Muslim MLAs of the Congress as being traitors to their religion was got published by Dilip Pandey under your instructions, for which the police arrested Dilip Pandey. At that stage, the party got Amanatullah Khan to send a letter to the police saying that he had got this poster printed, and it was not the party. At the time you yourself tweeted that why is the police arresting Dilip Pandey when they should be arresting Amanatullah Khan. Yet within a week, he was made in charge of the Okhla constituency by the party, promised a ticket and eventually given one! Are such means not unethical?

Then came the issue of AVAM or Aam Aadmi Volunteer Action Manch, which was a group of volunteers who wanted their voices heard in the party. Because this was threatening to brew into a rebellion amongst volunteers who felt that they were being used only like slave labour, and because you felt that it was necessary to crush this, it appears that the party got an SMS sent in the name of AVAM, saying that volunteers should join the BJP – the idea was to suggest that AVAM had become an agent of the BJP, though the SMS was fabricated by the party itself in the name of AVAM. And using this, you announced in a Google Hangout that these people had become traitors because of that SMS. And on that basis, Karan Singh, who was the leader of AVAM, was suspended and removed from the party. He appealed to the national disciplinary committee, which I was heading, and he said ‘I had been saying that this is not sent by me, please have this investigated’. So I asked you and Dilip Pandey and others to get this investigated, but you steadfastly refused.

Eventually, Karan Singh had to lodge an FIR, and the police investigated the matter and it was found that a volunteer of the party, not of AVAM, called Deepak Chaudhary, created this identity in the name of AAVAAM and used that to send that SMS. You should know Arvind, that impersonating an organisation or persons in order to defame them, is a serious criminal offence. Unfortunately young volunteers in the party under your tutelage are being taught that use of such means is OK in politics, since any means used to defeat a “Bigger evil” is OK.

Then came the issue of whether the party should contest Assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra. Again the matter was put to the National Executive by email, and the majority – 15 is to 4 – said that that should be left to state units to decide in accordance with our principle of Swaraj. But you did not allow that decision to be implemented. And eventually, it was rendered infructuous, because elections came too close and finally in that National Executive meet in Sangrur it was decided that there’s no point, and one should forget about contesting those elections.

When the Delhi elections were announced and campaigning started, you instructed volunteers to start a campaign “Modi for PM, Kejriwal for CM”. I said this is totally unprincipled. It means that our party has gone down on its knees before Modi at a time when it was positioning itself as the main opposition to Modi.

When the process of candidate selection for the Delhi assembly election of 2015 started, I found there was no transparency. Contrary to earlier practice, we were not posting candidates’ names on the website. Even the PAC, which was meant to approve the candidate, was not being sent the bio-data or names of the candidates in advance to enable us to check the records of the candidates. In the second meeting of the PAC to discuss candidate selection, because I had received complaints about two of the candidates who were being proposed in that meeting, I pointed this out. You got very angry saying, “Why do you think we will be selecting crooked people?” I said that is not the point – we need to have some transparency and due diligence. That led to an argument between you and me, and I walked out of that meeting and wrote an email on November 27, that I cannot be a rubber stamp for non-transparent and questionable selection of candidates. That email is now in the public domain.

After that, in the next list, again there were at least four questionable candidates among the 10 names proposed. Yogendra Yadav and I wrote a letter to the PAC on 10th December, detailing the objections against these four and pointing out that this time, the process of candidate selection was very different from the last time. This time, we were giving tickets to a large number of political entrepreneurs who had joined the party only for opportunism, who had jumped ship from Congress, BJP or Bahujan Samaj Party at the last moment, who had no ideological commitment to our party, had no record of public service, and whose sources of wealth weren’t explained.

Some of them were people against whom our party had itself complained that they were distributing money or liquor or had beaten up our volunteers. One of them (our initial choice from Wazirpur), went back to the BJP within 4 hours of us announcing his candidature. Your initial choice for the Mehrauli seat, Gandas, had to be dropped at the last moment only because his photographs were circulated with him showing off, with a glass of liquor in one hand and a revolver in the other. Yet, while he was dropped, his brother was given the ticket. Eventually, even he had to be changed because our Lokpal, Admiral Ramdas gave a strong report against him.

Thereafter, when we sent that letter, AAP stopped having meetings of the PAC or sending names for the approval of the PAC, and started announcing names on their own. When all this happened, I said “Now enough is enough. If this does not stop, and if there is no credible scrutiny of these candidates, I will have to resign from the party and make public the reasons for my resignation.” On that, an emergency meeting was called at my residence on January 4, by Yogendra Yadav, Prithvi Reddy etc which had 16-17 people from all over the country, important functionaries of the party. All of them felt that the party's campaign would be ruined if I resigned at that stage.

In that meeting I said, “Look, all these kinds of compromises are being made, various ethical corners are being cut and now you are selecting these kind of candidates without proper transparency or scrutiny. If you go with these kinds of candidates, then even if you win, the further compromises that you will have to make, will be such that they will completely destroy the USP of the party, which is of being a clean, transparent party, wedded to alternative politics. And instead of winning by using these kinds of candidates, it would be better to lose the elections by going with clean and honourable candidates”. That statement is being twisted around to claim that I said that I wanted the party to lose.

I had said that rather than winning by these kinds of candidates and means, it’s better to go with honourable candidates and run the risk of a possible loss. Because winning with these kinds of candidates and means destroys the founding principles of the party in the short run, and will destroy the party itself in the long run.

If I had wanted the party to lose the elections, I would have resigned and gone public with my reasons at that very time. If Yogendra Yadav wanted the party to lose, he would not have convened that meeting and stopped me from going public. Instead, he worked his heart out for this campaign, defended the party on innumerable occasions on TV. And yet you have the temerity to accuse even him, along with me, of working for the defeat of the party!

At the end of that meeting, an arrangement was worked out with your express consent, that: We would immediately refer all the complaints against candidates who had been selected to the Lokpal of the party and his decision would be final. And the rest of the issues of institutional reforms about transparency in the party, accountability, swaraj, inner party democracy – those issues will be taken up immediately after the elections. So those complaints against 12 candidates were referred to the Lokpal. In the four days that he had to do this exercise, he recommended the removal of two against whom there was clear evidence, recommended the issuance of warnings against six against whom there was some evidence, and allowed four to continue. Two were thus removed.

But the other issue of institutional reforms, which was agreed to be taken up within two days of the election results, were not discussed. Instead, the National Executive meeting of February 26, which you chose not to attend, started with Vishwas announcing your resignation and a no holds barred attack on Yogendra Yadav and myself by members of your coterie. The message conveyed by them on your behalf was clear: That the price for your continuing as Convenor was our removal from the PAC and NE. I then responded and pointed out the things I have mentioned above, and the issues of institutional reforms, but those were not discussed. The only issue that was discussed that day was whether you should continue as Convenor.

We all agreed that you should continue, but thereafter, some people went to your residence to meet you, and you made it clear that it’s either you or us, and that we have to be removed. And therefore, that is what happened in the next meeting which was held on March 4.

A charge that is made against me is that I did not campaign for the party during this election. I had said that I can’t campaign for many of these candidates, and given the manner in which these candidates had been selected, I was willing to campaign only for those candidates about whom I was fairly certain that they were the kind of people who would take the ideology of clean politics forward and work in public interest if they win. I had in fact given a list of five people that I thought were decent. But the party did not send me any programme for addressing public meetings. I therefore went for Pankaj Pushkar's public meetings who had personally invited me. Gopal Rai is falsely stating that I backed out of his meeting which I had agreed to. In fact, on that day when he called me for his meeting, I was in Calicut where I had addressed a party meeting and a press conference in which I had reiterated that Kiran Bedi was not an appropriate choice for the post of CM.

The other charge made against me is that I stopped people from donating to AAP. When other people asked me whether they should donate etc, I’d said, “Look, you should donate to those candidates who appear to be decent and honest to you.” You and your coterie have made the same charge against my sister Shalini Gupta. She also said the same thing that I had said to a closed circle of friends. In fact she strenuously encouraged the global group to donate to deserving candidates, which is why several candidates got so much funds from NRIs.

In your speech you have given a fanciful and utterly false account of how I was responsible for sending you to jail. The truth is that you had publicly stated that you would “rather go to jail, than give bail”, in the Gadkari defamation case, and when the matter came up for hearing, the judge herself explained to you what the meaning of a 'personal bail bond' was. You asked me if the judge's explanation was accurate, to which I replied in the affirmative. And then you decided that in the interest of your's, and the party's public image, you should refuse to furnish the personal bond and go to jail. My father and I however defended your decision in court and in public, and said that it highlighted an important public issue of the unnecessary requirement of asking for bail/personal bail bonds in such cases. In fact both of us spent several hours to meet you in jail, to explain the options and to persuade you to fill the bond after you had made your point.

Your coterie have also accused my father, my sister and myself of trying to capture the party. Arvind, you know very well that none of us have even wanted any executive positions or tickets for ourselves or any friends or family members. We have only tried to contribute and help in every way that we could to see the party grow into a powerful and credible vehicle for alternative politics in the country. My father, apart from donating more than Rs 2 crores as seed money to the party, has spent an enormous amount of time in giving selfless advice, legal and otherwise to the party. He played a major role in the draft of the Jan Lokpal bill. He worked for the well-being of the party with his “tan, man and dhan”. Yes, when he felt that you, for various reasons were not the right person to lead the party organisation, he frankly told you so. Apart from the reasons of ethical compromises mentioned above, he also saw that you were violating the constitution and rules of the party repeatedly, not allowing any working structure of the party organisation to be created (other than a coterie), and were not interested in formulating the policies of the party.

For two years, the elaborate reports of the 34 policy committees that we had set up, have been gathering dust because you havent found the time or have the inclination to look at those reports and apply your mind to them. You accuse my father of having stated that you were his third choice for CM after Kiran Bedi and Ajay Maken. That was his honest view after seeing all the shorcomings in your character that he had been observing. I had immediately publicly disagreed with his opinion, but in the light of what has transpired subsequently, particularly the stage managed lumpenism that you got unleashed in the NC meeting, I regretfully wonder if he was right.

My sister Shalini Gupta, as well as many other highly qualified persons, left their lucrative jobs abroad to help you build credible and efficient systems which would have proper cells and expertise so that it could function as a world class organisation. On repeated occasions you had yourself asked Shalini to give up her job for the sake of the country and said that her role as Organisation Development Advisor was only an advisory role and not a formal position with any power in the party as discussed in the PAC before she was appointed. However it became clear over time that you did not want any professional advice in this matter. Instead you asked Ashutosh who has no such professional expertise to come up with an alternative plan to make each cell of the party organisation an appendage to your coterie and accountable only to you. My sister worked day and night for the party and mobilized the support of Indians all across the world that contributed so much to the success of the party. One-third of all the donations to the party came from NRIs.

It is true Arvind that I have not contributed as much as you for the party. I have not fasted, nor gone to jail. I have been mostly involved in my various PILs against various scams, 2G, Coalgate, the CBI director, 4G, the Reliance Gas robbery, against GM foods, Nuclear Power Plants, destructive Hydel projects, Section 66A, Tobacco and Gutka, etc. I have spent the rest of my time giving legal and other advice to the party and fighting its cases in court. I have never been interested in any executive posts and I have seen my role in the party mainly as a person who will try and ensure that it remains true to its founding principles. And it is for this reason that I have raised my voice whenever I have found it to be slipping from its path.

It is in this spirit that I have been telling you that you need to have a majority of independent and credible voices in the decision-making bodies of the party particularly the PAC and the NE, and people who have the spine to stand up to you and tell you when you are wrong. And for this, my family and I are being seen as troublemakers who want to destroy the party! Arvind, you must realise that you cannot go very far with a party of just yesmen. The party would certainly be destroyed if you try and do that, but even you cannot go very far with this kind of culture that you are trying to breed in the party.

Arvind, this party was founded with a lot of idealism by thousands of people, especially young people, who came out and spent a lot of their time, effort, energy, money, sweat and blood in order to create a vehicle for alternative politics, in order to create a party that would practice clean and transparent politics. But unfortunately, all those principles are being betrayed by you and your coterie, who are currently in control of the party. And it has become a supremo-oriented, high-command culture kind of party.

After winning the Delhi elections with such a thumping majority, when you have such good fortune, you should be showing your best qualities to the people of this country. But unfortunately, your worst qualities have emerged now. The removal of the Lokpal, us and others who questioned the manner of our removal, reminds one of Stalin's purge of dissenters in the Communist party of Russia. You should read Orwell's Animal Farm to see the parallels between Stalin's Russia and what is happening in our party today. God and history will not forgive what you are doing to the party.

You feel that you can rectify everything by running the Delhi government well in the five years that you have. You think that if you deliver on governance, people will forget what you have done to the party. I wish you well in that endeavour. Even traditional political parties like Congress, BJP have done some governance. But the dream that we started with for clean and principled politics and corruption free governance was much much bigger. The fear that I have, is that after how you have behaved and the character traits that you have showed, this dream of clean and principled politics that the Aam Aadmi Party was founded on may well turn into a nightmare. But still, I wish you well.

Goodbye and good luck,

Prashant

I leave it to the judgment of the reader to figure out how the article was editorially improved by taking out the parts in blue - a couple of which highlight specific wrongs or disinformation from the Kejriwal camp.

20

This post comes on request that I stop criticizing and make useful suggestions. So here it is. I don't think it will help though, which is why I didn't do it to begin with.

First and most important thing to understand is that this devastation of AAP is a result of a series of deliberate choices powered by intent. Till intent changes, in my view, this cannot be recovered from.

A bird's eye view of the conflict within AAP

The basic issue is a difference of opinion. Where you have people you have views and they may coexist with some views and not with others. A piece in Swarajya titled "Yadav and Bhushan shouldn't be complaining" outlines a difference of opinion that has been present in AAP all through and sees it essentially as a socialist versus libertarian thinking issue though it does not put it in so many words. For purposes of this piece, I'm calling the two sides pragmatic and intellectual. This was further confirmed with a phone conversations with leaders trying to convince me that the disastrous decision of the 4th was a necessary step and good for AAP. I am not that gullible, but the recurrence of specific names and the tag "socialist" was very insightful. It was equally evident that those who held these views, did not adequately appreciate the "socialist" side of the story.

The perception was that "these people" did not work, prefered to be impractical rather than find solutions, intellectualized too much, criticized AAP, and wanted to replace Kejriwal as the National Convenor. Apparently working for AAP is suddenly only campaigning on the ground and Yogendra Yadav's formidable studio presence is called twiddling thumbs.

What no one apparently recognizes is that it is precisely these socialists that had allowed AAP to look friendly to social rights movements around the country in the run up to the Lok Sabha Elections. It is these views that have attracted idealists to the party fold for the "pragmatic" people to harness with their rough and ready effectiveness. While it is true that the "pragmatic" side of AAP has worked very hard for the Delhi Election win, they have failed to appreciate what this intellectual side brought them. It brought with it a rigor of looking at issues in terms of process. Of articulating complex ideas in a coherent manner. Of bringing dignity to the reputation the "pragmatic" side was rapidly gaining for reckless accusations. Yogendra Yadav in particular was spectacular at presenting the often chaotic AAP view in a refined manner on the fly. It brought AAP legitimacy as people who also have sound thinking - beyond mere good intentions.

This is not to say that there was no arrogance or behavior perceived as hostile. Intellectuals are often superior about their quality of understanding of issues (and I am not doubting that quality at all) and can tend to be dismissive of views they do not see as adequately refined. For example, ground up Swaraj is exactly that. Without it, there is no democracy. It must be done and while not done, we are false to our claims - to the point of not deserving a victory based on them? It is simply a trait - and an asset to a party like AAP, till someone goes and makes a big problem by pitting against it it, because the logic is likely to be unassailable - as we still see playing out in their calm statements to media. On the other hand, it is nice when intellectuals are adult enough to know that they can be difficult and to compensate.

For a while, AAP thrived from the diversity. The communication skills of the likes of Khetan did brilliantly with actions like the Delhi Dialogue, the exuberance of volunteers worked for the flash mobs or whatever, while Yadav and others created a formidable credibility by coherently articulating emotional zeal on a day to day basis. There was a lot of work done, and people fit well into their roles and did it. And it is because all did their best that AAP did its best. To own credit and treat those you dislike as deadweight will destroy unity.

The trouble with the differences in AAP

While the pragmatic side of the leadership was on a clear goal of doing whatever it took to get a victory in Delhi as an issue of the party's survival itself, the"socialists" were insistent on clear process. This was a divergence of method. Sticklers for the method could not tolerate cutting corners while those who had set their sights on the win were uncaring of the compromises they may have to take to make it happen - they may have believed it as a temporary deal with the devil, so to say, in order to achieve a larger goal.

This issue appears to be more with Prashant Bhushan than Yogendra Yadav. He is believed to have threatened press conferences leading to some difficult ego management in a party stressed about getting the win to happen.

While it takes two hands to clap, the clarity of ideas allowed Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan to uphold their side of the issue in a relatively dignified manner. If they were in a rivalry, it was specific and refined and on a relatively narrow band and completely invisible outside the party. Even their interviews after being removed only add dignity to AAP's values, while those opposed to them are increasingly sounding demented.

Methods of rivalry

Whether it is genuine good innocence and intentions or whether it is skill and cunning, whatever the rivalry the intellectuals had with the pragmatics, they managed to keep it low key. Press conferences may have been threatened, but they never happened. Yogendra Yadav was on Prime Time TV daily and never spoke or acted in a manner that showed AAP in a bad light. If either of them wanted to harm the party - with the access, visibility and stature they had, they would succeed without doubt. So whatever their ill intent that was raising the hackles of others, it did not harm the party, but strengthened it.

On the other hand, those acting against them have acted in poor spirit. Manish Sisodia's letter and Yogendra Yadav's reply to it is when this first spilled into the public domain. It is impossible to determine who leaked them and futile to make accusations without basis. If you read the letters, it is evident that Manish Sisodia made a personal attack on Yogendra Yadav alone for a dispute between two people. The letter was hostile, superior and showed Sisodia in  poor light. It being leaked added to the damage, but even known to very few people, it would still show Sisodia acting to create hostility within the organization.

Words we have are a sort of wardrobe. You wear silk to a date, jeans on a picnic and you need to know when and how to dress. Sisodia had not bothered. Either he was unable to, or he did not think Yogendra Yadav merited civility, quite forgeting that in the process he was also addressing a senior member of the party he professes to be committed to. Yogendra Yadav's reply only drove the point home by not responding to provocation and instead taking a thoughtful and introspective tone way more appropriate to the situation AAP was in after the Lok Sabha defeat than what Sisodia was using. He completely refused to be drawn into the personal mud slinging - which in turn allowed the letters to look like open communication between leaders worthy of respect rather than a catfight, which is what Sisodia had started.

If AAP volunteers found Prashant Bhushan or Yogendra Yadav difficult as it is now being implied, they showed greater maturity than the leadership by never letting it spill on the party's image. If they didn't, well that would just make it yet another unsubstantiated allegation in a fast growing pile. The letter by Admiral Ramdas leaked, but the tone of both was clearly enriching for the party and neither raised any serious alarm that would harm the image of AAP.

The really unforgivable thing happened on the first of March. There was abrupt dismissal of social media admins. Thus the first casualty of this war on Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav were actually bystander loyal role holders of Aam Aadmi Party who have no complaints against them and a lot of selfless service to their credit. The pragmatics just turned them into nobodys without explanation or gratitude. There is still no explanation provided for why their permissions were revoked without warning as though dismissing unimportant people.

Then came the organized slander campaign against Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav that was based on a series of allegations with zero evidence. Perhaps without the attack on loyal and completely innocent workers handling social media, there would be some basis to inclination to take unsubstantiated accusations against Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav as unavoidably urgent or necessary. But the completely unfair and disrespectful treatment of the admins to effect the hijack, combined with the unethical, inappropriate and immensely damaging use of the official handle to slander founders of the party cooked the goose of the pragmatics well before the meeting.

You cannot expect those who invest blood sweat and tears into creating anything to feel charitable about those destroying it. And that is exactly what is playing out. AAP volunteers are organizing against leaders they were devoted to with a ruthlessness that is as breathtaking as it is admirable. They are fighting for their beautiful creation to survive.

Another ethical (and legal) boundary that had been crossed with a "sting" operation of the journalist who published the story fell flat. Other journalists present with her had not filed stories with the damning data and one also denied that it was provided by Yogendra Yadav. On the other hand, many volunteers pointed out that the phone call itself appeared to be rehearsed. The sting that was used to base the only allegation against Yogendra Yadav not just fell flat, it exposed AAP for using illegal methods to monitor leaders and media. The venom that was now openly flooding against Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan has been revolting to even stray onlookers, let alone those who gave money and time to AAP and were now watching in dismay.

The opaque National Executive meeting that provided a result AAP volunteers explicitly didn't want still did not warn the arrogant people trying to manipulate reality to their will. But by now the volunteers were beyond hope and pleas. They were furious. They organized rapidly, demanding answers. Anjali Damania's accusations against Yogendra Yadav wanting to contest Haryana were countered with links to news reports of her announcing that AAP would contest in Maharashtra after Kejriwal refused. Campaigns demanding answers were organized. Other volunteers monitored the volunteer mood about the decision and more.

The leaders caught on the wrong foot had already had to retract slanderous tweets, but had no response to questions about procedure as well as questions raised by Prashant Bhushan about party democracy. They chose to keep repeating slander as though that was why volunteers were angry and the thing escalated to the point of people speaking the inside story exposing the leaders and how hey were acting against the interest of AAP.

AAP volunteer sentiment analysis
AAP volunteer sentiment analysis

When those still unwilling to open their eyes and smell the roses alleged that BJP was manipulating the results with bogus voting, volunteers started yet another survey of registered donors - since AAP has not released a list of volunteers, donation data is the only way they have of identifying genuine supporters.

Attacking Prashant Bhushan for Shanti Bhushan's actions was not appreciated, a planted story showing Shalini Gupta acting against party interest boomeranged when NRI volunteers denied getting it and then those who had got it releasing the Original email trail regarding accusations against Shalini Gupta which was not at all as offensive as the selected excerpts planted.Volunteers trying to hold AAP together being called fake was an outright slap in their faces. These were people who had spent time online, on the ground, working media, donating, making calls..... treated like the enemy.

The Delhi AAP handle was used to issue a press release with more slander against Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav and volunteers exploded. That Press Release has hundreds of critical comments verging from polite and disappointed to furious. If anyone liked that release, it is tough to notice in the river of rage in the comments.

It is a difficult place to recover from, even if possible. The arrogance is so profound and the damage it has done so vast that it is difficult to say that AAP can continue united - or even that it should, given the lack of ability to coexist.

What could be a way forward?

A good organizational development consultant could help resolve conflicts and coach basic skills for engaging respectfully with diversity. This cannot be recommended enough if AAP wants to recover. The consultant should NOT be an AAP volunteer/member but a real, independent one who is not stuck lower in the hierarchy from those s/he facilitates.

Dissolving the PAC and forming it afresh can bring some sense of justice. It is also democratically inappropriate to legitimize what is left standing and reinstating Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav will cause resumption of hostility triggers among those who kicked them out.

Lifting of all gags and guaranteeing that stating opinions will not bring retaliation. This is the leading fear among the dissenting volunteers.

Investigating and removing from authority EVERYONE who demonstrably acted against party interest - including people who hijacked the rights of others as well as Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav - though volunteers have pretty much shredded the allegations by now.

Norms must be created by means of which no people can have the authority to act against their equals unilaterally - that implies some being more equal than others. This means that conflict between leaders must be resolved through the Lokpal or by appealing to Kejriwal or referendum with volunteers, and not some leaders acting against those they want to target. Whether they take a vote or read tea leaves is immaterial. Disputes must not be solved by targeting one side - this is what has brought AAP to this point.

Prosecuting various illegal and unethical actions - illegal phone recording, planting stories in media, putting up communal posters... with the Lokpal and legal cases.

APOLOGIZING to dissenting volunteers - democracy really wasn't a terrible thing to ask for given AAP's ad campaigns.

Instituting organizational structures as promised, including methods to take feedback from volunteers. Is it not ironic that the party that claims Swaraj not just had no mechanism for volunteers to register dissent, but when they self organized and formed their own platform, they got disowned! Also things like putting up lists of volunteers, minutes of meetings, accounts and more. I imagine much healing can happen if volunteers are apologized to and invited to help bring AAP on track by creating these things.

=========================================

There. I have written the post. But I think volunteers underestimate the AHANKAR of those controlling the party right now. Apologies are not going to happen. Accountability and punishment for slander is not going to happen. I have no idea how this post will help you, but I have promised support out of respect, so here it is.

1

On the 4th of March, 2015, a meeting of the National Executive of the Aam Aadmi Party tabled accusations against Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan for anti-party activities and ended with a vote that saw them removed from the Political Affairs Committee. In my view, this decision was undemocratic and was arrived at in an unethical manner.

Reasons:

Allegations cannot be considered evidence

A letter making allegations cannot be considered evidence either. There was no independent investigation that resulted in any establishment of guilt. That the allegations were mischievous and factually problematic has been established by AAP volunteers alarmed by this development and specifically documented in this post on Saddahaq dedicated to explicitly addressing them.

[tweetthis twitter_handles="@Vidyut, @_AamJanata"]Allegations and conspiracy theories cannot be considered evidence.[/tweetthis]

Therefore the use of the allegations and avoidance of a factual investigation in order to remove Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav from the PAC indicates an unsubstantiated and malicious action against them.

Differences cannot be resolved by attacking one side

If there were differences between two camps, a due process to resolve them would address both sides of the divide. The allegations, in the absence of establishment of guilt amount to little more than that. Yet action was initiated only against Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav by those targeting them. Their attempt to call for a re-election of a PAC with irreconcilable differences was dismissed - which would be appropriate to do in the event of differences between equals in the leadership. It would empower the larger organization to have a say on such a crucial issue. It was rejected in spite of them offering to not contest to be on the PAC again - which would definitely mean that they were not attempting to avoid being removed. As with all their other suggestions available in the public domain, this would be congruent with the party's stated values of ground up democracy.

Mayank Gandhi put it in a nutshell:

I was taken aback by the resolution of removing them publicly, especially as they themselves were willing to leave. Also, this decision to sack them was against the overwhelming sentiments of volunteers from all over the world.

The vote that was taken was manipulated

The spokesperson for AAP RAjasthan,Rakesh Parikh has gone on record saying that while the state unit did not want the removal of Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, AAP National Secretary had a representative of his choosing vote in the NE resulting in the opposite vote being cast.

"Since Rajasthan convener Ashok Jainji was unable to attend, he had nominated me to go and convey our position to the PAC. But Pankaj Gupta insisted that only Sunil Agiwal, a party member, can attend. As a state unit, we had wanted this vote to be avoided, and a proper investigation on charges against Bhushan and Yadav to be done by internal Lokpal Admiral Ramdas to ascertain if allegations against them were true. Only then should action have been initiated."

[...]

"All of those who joined AAP after victory in 2013 elections have grown more influential than those of us working for the last four years. People like Ashish Khetan and others have taken over the party,"

Rajasthan convener Ashok Jain confirmed to the Economic Times that a state resolution in favour of "postponing the PAC meeting to a later day was not heeded". Pankaj Gupta also confirmed that he had suggested Sunil Aigwal to represent the party.

[tweetthis twitter_handles="@Vidyut, @_AamJanata"]Manipulating votes is neither honest nor democratic[/tweetthis]

Additionally, members of the NE, who had moved the motion against Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav consulted with two members of the Delhi State AAP (Ashutosh and Ashish Khetan, both of whom had entered the party to assume important roles directly) who had been attacking Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav publicly before dismissing their very reasonable suggestions that would put them out of the PAC without harming the party's stated ethics. It is after this consultation that the vote targeting Prashant Bhushan was taken and this vote has caused irreparable damage to the Aam Aadmi Party's credibility as well as support base, as evidenced by official role holders speaking up against it as well as drastic drop in donations.

Is this enough evidence to set aside the vote because of rigging, and for action to be taken against those manipulating organizational decisions unethically? I doubt. AAP is defending this vote against all logic now.

Deliberate withholding of information from party volunteers

It is a little ironic that one of Prashant Bhushans key issues with transparency was the lack of a mechanism to incorporate views of volunteers into the party as well as lack of transparency in party decisions by not publicly posting minutes of meetings. It is ironic because at least two of the charges leveled against them would be confirmed or demolished if the minutes of meetings and tabled documents were available to volunteers. According to information posted by Saddahaq in the post linked above, minutes of the meeting that ended up with Kejriwal's often quoted "Let's go for broke" approving the contesting of elections nationwide would establish who exactly it was that made the suggestion, and whether the final approval came from Kejriwal or not. This is among key accusations agaonst Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan.

Yogendra Yadav is alleged to have submitted a document recommending contesting a mere 100 seats. This document is also not publicly available allowing spin masters to claim whatever they wish independently of factual proof or risk of verification - depending on whether the document is as claimed.

Additionally, minutes of the NE meeting that removed Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav from the PAC are also not available.

For a party that claims to be accountable, key decisions in the party being taken in an opaque manner and official gags issued to deny volunteers information is not just undemocratic, it is a deliberate violation of AAP's claimed ethics and constitution.

Misuse of official media channels to target individuals

In the absence of allegations being proved, all that is established is a one sided targeting of Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, that they have not retaliated to at any point. On the other hand, abundant first hand accounts exist of AAP leaders going public to target both of them as well as official Social Media presence being misused by the faction attacking Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav.

Sanjay Singh and Anjali Damania interviews were broadcast on television channels are are publicly available videos. Ashish Khetan, Anjali Damania and more leveled accusations on Social Media - some of which were later deleted on seeing the anger of volunteers.

Below are two accounts of official members of AAP's social media team that demonstrate how AAP's social media was misused to create a perception that the entire organization was against the two, when in fact it was merely the hijacking of control of Social Media by one faction.

Priya is a member of AAP'sSocial Media team

Guys,

I am seeing a lot of back and forth emails debating, speculating and fighting between many well-intentioned volunteers. And I feel its not right on my part not to disclose what I know. I am a member of AAP social media team. And this is what happened in that group. (As Mayank Gandhi said, I will also be kicked out of the team soon. So be it )

Things were brewing since late December. Ankit and Abhinav (the social media leads) had stopped listening to most of the team members. I personally raised the issue of too much AK glorification stuff on our national page (before & after election), but all I got was arrogant replies from Abhinav & silence from Ankit.

On March 1st, Ankit posted on our group--"As directed by the National Secretary all page roles are being reshuffled". And he took out all of our admin privileges. There was an uproar in the group about this, but Ankit didn't care.

As soon as he did that, Ankit, Ashutosh, Ashish started tweeting against YY & PB. Most of us in the group raised our objection on what's going on. Ankit, simply ignored it.

On March 2nd--Abhinav posted Sanjay Singh's press conference. All of us raised our objection for using the AAP platform to take sides. We strongly told them to post YY's interview as well. The answer we got was that, "SS's press Conf is the party's stand & YY's interview is his personal stuff". All of us fought as much as we could, but Ankit simply ignored it completely.

In short, in my opinion, a VERY SMALL section of AAP core members misused their power and hijacked the platform to kick out two whistle blowers and tarnish their personal image. (Let me emphasis again, its just a handful of people. Their control on social media a reach of 15million people just made them look like a way larger crowd).

Personally I DO NOT know if this was done with AK's knowledge or not. I am not going to speculate that. But this incident clearly shows how easy it is for a VERY SMALL team of people to take control & hijack this great organization that we all worked together. So it is very important that democracy and transparency which is THE CORE message of AAP should be instilled within the party.

None of us can afford to leave the party at this juncture AAP because then AAP would become nothing but worse than BJP/RJD/Cong/SP. All our efforts for the last 2+ years would vanish. So it is very important to raise our voice and bring democracy and transparency within the party. I hope all of you would do that.

--
Regards
Priya James

Ankit Lal's letter briefing SM heads on specific accusations to be made against Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan.

Ankit Lal's letter directing AAP's Social Media team to level accusations against Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan while presenting them as opportunists
Ankit Lal's letter directing AAP's Social Media team to level accusations against Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan while presenting them as opportunists

This letter includes as "proof" a bogus sting operation conducted months ago and debunked thoroughly by SP Singh, another journalist present at the meeting where Yogendra Yadav allegedly planted stories in media against Arvind Kejriwal. The journalist puts that "proof" six feet under, but two points alone are adequate to demolish its credibility as an accusation.

  1. If media briefing was done to three journalists, how come only one published the information? The other two were too stupid to recognize a scoop when they received it in a specific off the record meeting?
  2. SP Singh had also received a call asking about his meeting with Yogendra Yadav, which asked him about the "planted" story and he had replied then itself that the journalist would have had other sources. So those doing the "sting" were clearly aware that the information had probably not come from Yogendra Yadav, yet see no hesitation to use it months later as "proof" to achieve their malicious agenda.

There is a letter by Shashank Kumar who has worked on the ground as well as designing the AAP Manifesto, Delhi Dialogue campaign and other graphics and design support. He contributed to the hashtag #UnitedAAP after being alarmed by AAP leaders viciously attacking Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav and seeing the toll it was taking on the cohesiveness of the party. The whole letter is well worth a read. It names AAP leaders acting to destroy the party from within and how. At no point does he claim that Prashant Bhushan or Yogendra Yadav are innocent, merely insists on a proper investigative process like the thousands of others infuriated by this witch-hunt playing out.

NRI volunteers had started the "ghanti bajao" campaign in the absence of a mechanism to register volunteer views, where volunteers called the members of the NE directly to express their displeasure over the factionalism. They had also recommended that the NE meeting be videotaped and the footage to be under the control of Admiral Ramdas to be made public if necessary in the event of a dispute. What is sad is that no one in the NE apparently has made a sting video. Would have cleared many things.

Admiral Ramdas on his part had seen this brewing and had written a letter warning against exactly this outcome.

All wisdom discarded, the faction targeting PrashantBhushan and Yogendra Yadav went ahead with their vendetta in the most dramatic manner possible ignoring even offered methods of doing it in a manner that would not harm Aam Aadmi Party.

And now those leaders are busy explaining how this was the right thing to do, and in their mythical Swaraj, the furious voices of supporters are just so much noise to be conned with mumbo-jumbo like "ardha satya" (half truth) or "anti-party activity" and to "wait" - clearly meaning wait for an answer you won't get, but hopefully your anger will be defused enough for us to bear no consequences. The gag on releasing information to volunteers who built the party remains, while mysterious allusions to information behind that iron curtain continue. Information that will miraculously turn an explicitly undemocratic process into something respectworthy, apparently.

Clearly the volunteers who have invested their faith in the values of the party are not listening. This isn't going to die down. "Swaraj will prevail, or AAP will finish," a volunteer declared passionately, exhorting me to "not give up on the party and only be angry with those who did wrong instead of the whole party."

 

Unnoticed in the media hype is a long overdue and very welcome change in Indian politics. Powerful women entering Indian politics on their own steam. Women who have no hesitation standing among the men like any other candidate among equals. Women who are fighters and challengers of the status quo in real life so far entering the corridors of minimal representation of women and token power, except the powerful ladies at the top of the parties who have so far proved useless toward changing the gender bias of the masses.

During the Delhi Elections, if I had a complaint about Aam Aadmi Party, it was the lack of women candidates. AAP had just seven women candidates. In typical fashion, I made no bones about my displeasure over this, only to be assured that AAP was keenly looking to field more women candidates. Taking this with a bucket of salt, I had, at that point been irritated enough to say that perhaps feminists need to start making their own parties. That the only three women to get elected in the Delhi Assembly were from AAP was hardly a balm when the number was THREE! And I was angry there was only one in Arvind Kejriwal's cabinet.

At that time, several AAP handles had engaged with me asking for suggestions on how to get more powerful women into politics. I shared what I could. I became convinced that these people do want more women visible, even if they weren't at that time and did what I could to support that goal. When Alka Lamba shifted from Congress to Aam Aadmi Party and supporters reacted with knee jerk paranoia about her, I engaged and criticized and got them to see reason and went as far as to suggest that women in all political parties should be defecting to AAP if they really are giving them rights.

I didn't really expect much. And I lost track of that measure for a while as other things started coming up and I started supporting Aam Aadmi Party in the run up to this election as well as my ethical stand against the rampant paid media influencing of electoral results, which in my opinion is an assault on democracy by vested interests.

And I came face to face with that evaluation again today. On the surface, not much has changed. AAP does have more women candidates this time around, but they also have more candidates overall this time around. This is the freaking national event. All candidates are more. But beyond the numbers, there is something completely unprecedented in Indian politics. Drop by drop dripping onto a status quo, it is being eroded in ways I can only celebrate.

Aam Aurat Party - inspiring women joining Aam Aadmi Party
Aam Aurat Party - inspiring women joining Aam Aadmi Party

One by one, without much sensation, right along with other candidates, is the steady growth of powerful women rising from the masses and shouldering the responsibility of being leaders of a maverick revolution, the likes of which India hasn't seen before. I remember reading some research paper on women in politics, and a point remains in my mind about the link between corruption and disempowerment of women. I don't recall the paper, but the insight that remained in my mind was that with power largely residing in the control of men, corruption naturally becomes a playing ground for men as it thrives on "networking" - to put it mildly. Not to mention the conditioned reluctance in women to engage in questionable activities with men. And somewhere in my mind a link forms of the spontaneous emergence of women leaders in a party dedicated to fighting corruption.

Perhaps it is a coincidence, but the fact that there are a lot of women suddenly exercising their influence on the nation's future is significant in terms of women's power in India. Most of these without political families. Stepping into a profession that had come to symbolize actions that respectable people don't engage in. Certainly non-political families would not like the idea of their women becoming politicians. It would be seen as a risk that the family has no power to protect against.

Yet here we have not just women leaders emerging, but there is no women's wing. Women are leading just as same as any man. The stress on non-violence has had the unexpected side effect of turning the whole party into an area where men or women are very similar in power. Here are some of the women who have recently made news one way or the other related with the party.

Anjali Damania, state convenor of AAP's Maharashtra unit, contesting from Nagpur against Nitin Gadkari

Anjali Damania
Anjali Damania is an AAP leader and candidate.

Anjali Damania. Social activist who was independently taking on corrupt people by the time she got into Aam Aadmi Party and is now among the key leaders. Anjali played an important role in exposing the corruption in dam constructions in Maharashtra that led to 10 years with no increase in irrigation here.

Meera Sanyal, renowned banking professional, contesting from Mumbai South

Meera Sanyal, one of India's top banking professionals is contesting from Mumbai South. To paraphrase from her Wikipedia page, Meera resigned as CEO and Chairperson of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) India, to enter public life. She is also on the international Board of Right to Play, a NGO that works with over one million children in more than 20 countries and uses the transformative power of play to educate and empower children facing adversity. In 2011, Meera was invited by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to join the International Council on Women's Business Leadership (ICWBL) and took an active role in the Leadership sub-committee for the empowerment of women. In recognition of her initiatives on Financial Inclusion & Sustainability, she has been appointed as a member of the National Executive Council of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), and chairs FICCI’s Financial Inclusion Committee. She is also a member of the National Councils for Banking & Finance, Public Policy and Women's safety of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) (CII). Does India need competence and vision like this steering its future? Hell yes.

Soni Sori, Teacher, Social activist, contesting from Bastar

Soni Sori, an adivasi teacher framed by a corrupt system and brutalized and raped in jail does not let her voice falter from calls of justice even as vested interests try to paint her as an enemy of the state. Her rapist got a bravery award. She now claims voice for herself and countless others caught between the Maoists and a ruthless and opportunist state as an Aam Aadmi Party candidate.

Medha Patkar, social activist and legendary leader of several people's movements against powerful exploiters, contesting from Mumbai North East

Medhatai was earlier planning to contest independently, and Aam Aadmi Party had declared that they would support her anyway. She has since joined the party.

Medha Patkar
Medha Patkar is a prominent social activist.

Medha Patkar is a legend in her own right. The forgotten tenacious pitbull that forced the Adarsh scam to light. The fearless activist to challenge devastation of people being sugarcoated as progress. Be it the displaced villagers of the Sardar sarovar dam or the mega connected Lavasa city or slums in Mumbai being demolished without fair compensation. On the day when Indian media went into a rhapsody of outrage over Aam Aadmi Party's violence in toppling over a metal detector, which was stood back in its rightful place without damage, the purpose of media seemed to be coverage of election travel, because the rally the travel happened for was blacked out. If it weren't, people sitting tight in homes would see an electrifying Medha Patkar taking the gathering by storm with her straight talk based on years of hands on experience of fighting for the rights of the common man. You'd have seen this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-sbzvtBGjs

Gul Panag, actor, activist adventure junkie, contesting from Chandigarh

Gul Panag is an enthusiastic biker
Gul Panag is an enthusiastic biker

Gul Panag. According to her Twitter profile, Gul Panag is "actor, activist, aviator, animal lover, adrenalin junkie, adventurer, avid traveller, automobile & fitness enthusiast, biker, entrepreneur, student, writer". She also happens to be a Miss India, "Army brat" adult daughter of Lt Gen H S Panag who took on corruption in the Army before he retired. She works in many social initiatives for change and is an astonishingly diverse person.

As a model, beauty queen and actress, there is no end to fantastic photographs of her to illustrate any aspect of her life and work, so we must assume that Aaj Tak is merely sticking to standard India Today policy of showing bare female flesh where possible even if it is a candidate announcement for elections. If you have ever worn a bikini, you might as well grow a paunch and color your hair purple. Your file photo is the bikini one.

Gul Panag
Aaj Tak's facebook post about Gul Panag being chosen as AAP's candidate for Chandigarh.

Women of India are cursed with a media and powerful people who are relentlessly SLEAZY. From publications like India Today to MLA's watching porn in Assemblys and your vegetable vendor who weighs twice your weight and sizes you with his eyes. I could have chosen to ignore this photo, but it is important, because it is not how she normally looks and someone has gone out of their way to present her in a manner not fitting for her role. Unless of course they want to show all news of Govinda with a photo of him in yellow underwear or sprawled on a cot. The good news is that Gul is a woman of strength and if her presence allows these questions to be raised, she's bringing change before the polls, as far as I am concerned.

Or perhaps it is a continuation of India Today's hatchet jobs against Aam Aadmi Party, where a candidate for election's photo is deliberately chosen to make her look frivolous and unsuitable, when there are plenty of excellent, professional and RELEVANT photos of Gul Panag in terms of her new role. Since their coverage of Rakhi Sawant joining BJP didn't include any mega cleavages (saffron sari, believe it or not), I'm also going to add this one to the log of paid media bias on the India Today account.

Shazia Ilmi, ex-media professional, contesting from Ghaziabad

Shazia Ilmi is among the oldest of Aam Aadmi Party women leaders. She got my respect when she contested in Delhi Elections breaking unsaid norms on religious politics by contesting from a "non-Muslim" constituency. She was the victim of vicious hatchet job by media where candid footage of her speaking with the reporter who was trying to get her to support illegal activities was edited to create a perception that she was interested in taking money to hold false protests. Earlier, a property dispute in her family was used to present "proofs" that not even her family thought well of her. She ended up losing by a narrow margin. This time I wish her luck.

Shazia Ilmi was among the reasons why I started this habit of special coverage to counter media bias against AAP in the run up to elections. I do not see this as contradictory to my preference to remain on "my side" as opposed to political parties. I believe "my side" is being attacked when it is fed false information that will lead to choices that would not have been made without the deception.

Kanchan Chaudhary Bhattacharya, India's first woman DGP, contesting from Haridwar

Kanchan chaudhary bhattacharya
Kanchan Chaudhary Bhattacharya is India's first woman DGP

Kanchan Chaudhary Bhattacharya was India's second woman IPS officer after Kiran Bedi and the first woman Director General of Police in the country in Uttarakhand. Forging new ground in a male bastion of gender prejudices, Kanchan Chaudhary's fight is the stuff of legends as she took on thugs and lawlessness without even as she asserted her place within a police force not used to seeing women as authority figures.

At the same time she proved to herself that she could do it. She could be herself and she could change the police force and the world for the better. By doing it.

Older readers may remember a television serial called Udaan that had a lot of girls wanting to be cops. Yep. This is *that* Kanchan Chaudhary Bhattacharya.

Balwinder Kaur, agriculture activist, contesting from Kurukshetra

Balwinder Kaur, a farmer activist who mobilized women farmers to fight for their rights is AAP's candidate for the constituency currently represented by Naveen Jindal.

Many in Aam Aadmi Party were disappointed when Irom Sharmila declined to contest from an Aam Aadmi Party seat. Yet, as I write, it becomes clear that the refusal was to contest the election alone, and she walks with the party like many other inspiring women of power who have their independent identities for their struggles for what is right. This image came in just as I was about to end this post.

 

Support for Aam Aam Aadmi Party by Irom Sharmila, the Iron lady of Manipur
Support for Aam Aam Aadmi Party by Irom Sharmila, the Iron lady of Manipur

In my view, while the party continues to inspire and provide support to women to be powerful, it is worth bringing to power to be able to tackle far more serious crimes.

And there are more. Many more nameless ones who get attacked by insecure mobs of fanatical parties. Who get threats and die. Still others who live and work tirelessly shoulder to shoulder with the men to allow the party to sustain its rocket like growth trajectory without splintering.

And they are safe. I was amazed to see a few tweets on women's day by volunteers of AAP thanking the party for making the events so safe for them. These are practical things. They exist if you are like that. No amount of presenting can make them happen. This is also a country where an outraged Sonia promising women of her party who complained of harassment by politicians that action would be taken.... faded into oblivion. This is also a country where a woman of Sushma Swaraj's stature got overruled when it came to her objecting to allowing a person of dubious credibility to represent the party. And this is a place where a new politician like Shazia Ilmi who suffered the brunt of a major hatchet job on her credibility could still frankly refuse to contest from Rae Bareilly and prevail even when the party wished otherwise.

It is a party where objections to Alka Lamba joining did not involve her as a woman and the volunteers could be made to listen and understand a larger point and include her.

I do not doubt anymore. The lives of women will be transformed by Aam Aadmi Party coming to power.