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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.

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."

 

4

In the National Executive (NE) meeting yesterday, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) removed Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan from their Political Affairs Committee (PAC). This action comes after a long growing rift within the party, which some staunch Kejriwal followers sneeringly referred to as "socialists". Another explained that the party was socialist overall, but these people called themselves socialist - or whatever that is.

[tweetthis]Leaders of AAP's Delhi state unit are bringing disgrace to the party with their unfounded and toxic witchhunt.[/tweetthis]

There are several allegations against the duo that have been brought out into the open by the party in ways that do more to reveal the ugly methods to achieve political objectives than shed light on the supposed crimes of Prashant Bhushan or Yogendra Yadav. Addressing some here.

Yogendra Yadav is ambitious

This accusation coming from the blind supporters of the person who has not let ultimate power rest in any hands other than his own since the birth of the party is so absurd as to make no sense. In a party claiming to be against high command, it would be logical to expect that once Arvind Kejriwal was Chief Minister, someone else would take over the party's command. Not even BJP and Congress have this kind of singular control over power. Without ambition, AAP wouldn't exist. It now appears that the sole ambition to lead must be Kejriwal's and all other ambitions must be to support. I see nothing wrong in expecting Arvind Kejriwal to resign.

Yogendra Yadav made a public spectacle of differences in the party.

This is not true. Manish Sisodia started the public accusations game (READ THESE AGAIN) in the wake of the Lok Sabha Elections disaster with a public letter criticizing Yogendra Yadav for his differences with Naveen Jai Hind. The very fact that Yogendra Yadav alone got what amounted to an "expose" of inappropriate behavior for a spat between two people shows which side of that spat Manish Sisodia fell on. Yogendra Yadav's reply to this letter STATES HIS PREFERENCE to keep this quiet and replies with generic but important issues plaguing AAP - the questions raised in this letter were never addressed to the best of my knowledge. Incidentally, Naveen Jai Hind has continued his vicious vendetta against Yogendra Yadav to date and it is currently widening fissures in Haryana AAP.

Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav threatened press conferences, sabotaged party campaign

I have not seen evidence of this. Raising questions where party is clearly going wrong, in my eyes amounts to support of the party and not sabotage. If these questions raised repeatedly are never answered, while the opposite claims are made in public, it would be the duty of any honest person to be the whistleblower - incidentally something AAP respects a lot except in own party. Several Kejriwal supporters have claimed that "Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav had to be constantly managed to not harm AAP." Considering that Prashant Bhushan could draw attention to anything he said any time and Yogendra Yadav was routinely appearing for the party in national media, this accusation is absurd.

If they wanted to damage the party, they could have done it any time. What they appear to be doing is raising urgent and genuine questions about party functioning to strengthen the party - which got managed by shutting them up over and over and the problems remain. These questions have been asked by me as well as many others who thought AAP actually was being honest about its values. The Kejriwal faction clearly appears to be fine with the lack of democracy as long as they get power in Delhi. The damage to AAP does not appear to be a concern, since the core circle of power is sitting lush with self importance right now and have no wish to contest further elections. It appears that this is being projected as "socialist" - a disturbing echo of BJP's contempt for democracy.

This is about greed for Rajya Sabha seats

So what if it is? Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan have both acted in the interest of the party. Denying seats is very different from running a public vilification campaign against them. One is a party decision, the other is party sabotage.

Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav have embarrassed the party publicly

Increasingly, the much acclaimed honesty of the Aam Aadmi Party appears to be the "appearance" of honesty rather than actions of honesty. If dishonesty in a party committed to honesty is exposed, it is an opportunity for reform. If dishonesty in a con is exposed, it is a trigger to shoot the messenger. In my view, a party that doesn't follow appropriate decision making procedures but makes big claims of representative democracy is dishonest. This was also reflected in their all male cabinet, independently of any influence or accusations by either Prashant Bhushan or Yogendra Yadav. When a senior party leader has communal posters put up, while the party claims to fight communalism, it is dishonesty. For an honest party, the embarrassment is that these things happened, for AAP, the embarrassment appears to be that these things got exposed. It is like saying "it is okay to steal as long as you don't get caught" - a far cry from the advertised adamant principled stands.

Prashant Bhushan wanted a post for his sister.

So what? The question ought to be one of merit, yes? Last piece of propaganda was all about merit determining this - and all the people making the accusations actually didn't have an issue of merit about her. As for family members, I hear Ankit Lal wanted a ticket for his wife that Yogendra Yadav didn't allow? Notice how he hasn't been kicked as head of social media for wanting it.

Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav interfered with the candidate selection process

[tweetthis]Where did AAP follow its much claimed candidate selection process that Bhushan or Yadav interfered?[/tweetthis]

What candidate selection process? From the much hyped start, we have seen people walk into the party to get seats. If they flagged names for scrutiny and two candidates actually had to be withdrawn, it only shows that their concerns were legitimate. Perhaps the Kejriwal club wanted to run with the problem candidates for reasons of their own?

Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan supported AVAM

I have said this before and I say it again. If an argument has merit, it has merit. If it doesn't, it doesn't. Regardless of who incites and who funds. While the mysterious 2 crore funding was not illegal, it was clearly dubious that no one in AAP has any idea of who gave so much money. For a party that made a huge fuss about donations received on social media, not a single day reported such a massive donation. I had independently asked Ankit Lal about this and he explained that only online donations get reported on social media. I went to the extent of asking him to confirm the payment with their accounts with bank, as they could just as easily be planted if the website got hacked.

Regardless, it seems rather strange that no one celebrated such massive donations received in a day for a party that got thousands of tweets celebrating a few lakhs received routinely. This amnesia is rather strange, even if not illegal for the party and does raise questions of who exactly this mysterious donor is to donate such a massive amount without anyone noticing. More importantly, even after the controversy broke, there is no attempt to find out the source of the donation - which to me indicates that the source is known to those who matter and can order an investigation. So I don't see AVAM's questions as entirely irrelevant, though their timing was certainly mischievous and motivations unknown.

If people raising questions about party functioning gravitate toward others raising questions about party functioning, I don't see this as a conspiracy so much as long festering questions that are important enough for people to persist in seeking answers and raising the pressure. To dismiss them as anti-party activity is as good as saying expecting transparency from AAP is against the party culture - regardless of TV studio claims.

Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav were hungry to contest elections

Unless it is only Delhi that needed the oh-so-honest party, I fail to see the problem with this. The Lok Sabha defeat was more because of Kejriwal's stunts in Varanasi that appropriated party resources disproportionately to fight from a deliberate position of disadvantage AND key speeches ignoring what AAP was promising to focus on random allegations and accusations. If he'd stayed in Delhi, there would be far more people in the Lok Sabha today. But a growing conspiracy theory says that this was pre-planned, just like the BJP sweep of UP was pre-planned. This is further supported by the fact that a disproportionate number of bogus voters found in Varanasi has not led to so much as a whimper of protest or call for repolling by Aam Aadmi Party. 6.5 lakh duplicate names in a constituency with 17 lakh voters can hardly be a "mistake".

Incidentally, the push to contest Lok Sabha Elections nationwide is what got Kejriwal the flood of volunteers from all over India, arriving to saturate the Delhi Campaign on the ground. They immediately got thanked in the form of "Thanks for Delhi, but we won't be contesting in your area, we will focus on delivering here." All of a sudden the government that claims to have delivered miracles in 49 days is in a desperate rush to be able to deliver its promises at all in five years to the point of not finding any women worthy of delivering them and the chap holding the ultimate leadership not even attending an NE meet as crucial as this one (but has time to handle party responsibilities if Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav and their pesky questions are removed).

Obviously Kejriwal can't do both. And he can't let go of power enough to let the party grow either.

The bottom line is clear. Kejriwal & Co have got what they wanted. Now they intend to enjoy it and ignore any questions raised because no one can do a thing to them anymore. Not the people of Delhi, not supporters, members or donors of the party. If they all turned against him, they still can't do a thing for the next five years. Accountability is no longer an issue. Kejriwal has no time for anything except... um... 10 days delivering promises to Bangalore district of Delhi. The rest was a fantasy woven to con enough people into donating and supporting.

Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav got removed democratically

This is complete nonsense. If Arvind Kejriwal not only clings to power, but uses the affection people have for him as a weapon to influence party decisions, it is not democratic. If Kejriwal submitted a resignation as National Convenor and refused to withdraw it unless Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav were removed, it is emotional blackmail. Plain and simple. It is a misuse of the affection people have for him to use their wish to continue following him to eliminate people from positions of power. It is not democratic to request Mayank Gandhi to refrain from voting and Mayank doing so raises questions about his commitment to party democracy as well. The replacement of the representative from Rajasthan was clear cut "vote rigging". After all this tamasha, Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav were defeated by a mere three votes. Democratic my foot.

[tweetthis]The ouster of Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav from the PAC is brute eviction of dissenting minority.[/tweetthis]

If the NE decision actually represented the views of the party, there wouldn't be supporters still using "paanch saal Kejriwal" pictures for their profiles furious about the ouster of Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav. Staunch supporters have abruptly stopped. This was a wrong decision on every level. You can rig "democracy", you cannot make a decision that doesn't reflect the interests of those it claims to to "feel" right.

With this decision, the Aam Aadmi Party has openly shed the burden of ethics weighing it down for so long. With five years of government secure, and Kejriwal in no mood or need to contest anything anymore, the Kejriwal camp has simply abandoned the party in the rest of the country with their reckless actions for ego.

In the process, what the AAP seems to have forgotten in their intoxication with themselves is that governments come and go. Five years is not very long in the life of a nation. An anti-corruption party targeting Prashant Bhushan with an underhanded hate campaign and removing him from the PAC is its own one sentence self-explanatory story.