Gunasekar C Rajaratnam, among the earliest volunteers of Aam Aadmi Party has been making allegations regarding National Executive Member and State Convenor for Tamil Nadu, Ms Christina Samy. The nature of allegations span cronyism, excessive expenditure when less expensive alternatives were available and unaccountability with funds, among other impropriety. He further alleges that when they tried to get attention over these complaints, several volunteers received letters on the 7th of January 2014 that terminated their membership from of Aam Aadmi Party retrogressively from the 1st of September 2013.
I have obtained a copy of the letter sent by Gunasekar C Rajaratnam to Christina Samy detailing these complaints dated 3rd August 2013, and the allegations all appear to be very specific, verifiable and actionable. It is unclear why the Aam Aadmi Party has not confronted them head on in typical style and got to the truth of the matter one way or the other transparently.
I am reproducing the letter here in the hope that the added visibility to these complaints adds strength to the voices insisting that the values that inspired them to sign up to Aam Aadmi Party be upheld, and a clear and appropriate resolution to this matter is found at earliest. Tamil Nadu has Aam Aadmis with great needs as well, and it is important that this political revolution not be denied to them.
Gunasekar C Rajaratnam
Volunteer, Aam Aadmi Party
21, Padmavati Nagar, Agraharam
Korattur, Chennai - 600076
Ph: +91 917 619 6799 email: email@example.com
Ms Christina Samy
National Executive Member and State Convenor
Aam Aadmi Party-Tamil Nadu
Dear Christina Samy,
I write this after much agonising since May 2013. I write this as an ordinary party member because I believe that AAP has the culture of accountability to ordinary members.
Some members of your own hand-picked state committee have raised valid questions about your way of leading the party as well as questions on your integrity and honesty.
I have co-signed one of their complaints to the National Executive. I would like to raise some of those complaints with you as well as some complaints out of my own experience volunteering at AAP office in chennai for a brief period.
a. Conflicts of Interest
You have nominated Mr. Samuel as a State Committee member and given him the responsibility of handling party accounts. Mr. Samuel has also been the auditor of your family run Arreds Trust and other NGOs. With due respect to the professional integrity of Mr.Sam, it is a conflict of interest to nominate him to the state committee.
There are other reports of such conflicts of interest in appointment of your relatives, employees of your family run trust and others close to you to the state and district committees.
b. Huge expenses & Not maintaining accounts
AAP is a party of limited means and frugality is expected in expenses however luxurious our personal spending has been. You claim to have invested large sums of your own as well as borrowed money for the party. When I demanded that you account for all contributions donations and expenses, you claimed that AAP National Executive has not yet allowed you to start accounting. When I offered to keep accounts in the office you said that Mr. Sam has been authorised to keep accounts.
I had offered my first floor as office space. you did not like the location. You instead made Mr. Narayanan contribute a huge advance and monthly rent. You also spoke of Mr. Narayanan's contribution as a quid-pro-quo in return for making him District convenor and I am sure Mr. Narayanan expected no such favour. Such quid-pro-quo is alien to AAP's culture as a political party. Also Mr. Narayanan's donation could have been put to better use. (you have not accounted these donations or issued receipts to him till I left in May.)We could have found more voluntary offers of space as mine.
I am told that you have budgeted 65 lakhs expenses for the first year. This amount is ridiculously high and not beffittng a common man's party that has not even started growing.
You have conducted a training workshop for AAP with hired faculty. What is the source of funding for the training. Have you made any proposal from your NGO to some International donor? please note it is illegal to obtain foreign funding for political activity in India.
When members ask for accounts you have not responded and I never saw any accounts kept in the office.
c. Donation Receipt books
AAP treasurer had authorised numbers of donation receipts. You had printed 2 extra receipt books with aditional unauthorised numbers. To prevent misuse of the extra donation receipts please send the unauthorised donation receipt books to National Treasurer.
2. Media boycott of AAP Tamil Nadu
I am shocked that even before our party has started growing, the Press Council has started boycottong AAP events. You have not done anything to correct the situation and the press remains angry with AAP despite our co-convenor apologising in writing for misbehaviour with the press. I have personally warned you earlier about the attitude and behaviour of our co-convenor within the party. Other members too have complained often. This alone will finish the growth of our party in the state if not corrected.
3. Organization Culture
AAP nationally has evolved a culture of equality, respect, transparency, openness and sharing. You wish to run the party in a secretive manner. You have even kept information on district commttee formation a secret that state committee members are kept in the dark. One of them had to approach me to download the information from AAP fb group.
You also have an aversion to allow the party to grow and add new members. The old IAC people were openly prevented from joining the party. We lost hundreds of young potential volunteers due to your hate of most IAC supporters.
Mr. Manimaran was misled by you for a long time and I am told you now feel he and his organization should be sent out of the party. You may have valid reasons but you need not have invited him to State committee meetings and toured his districts and collected gifts of shawls.
You also fear protesting against the State Government on any issue. I am aware that you are afraid of losing Govt. funding for your NGO projects.
You also are ideologically opposed to M.K.Gandhi and objected to using his image on party handbills. I am not aware of such ideological aversion to Gandhiji elsewhere within AAP.
That AAP does not have a party flag and we use the National Flag is a practice that has attracted millions of non-political people to us. Your attempts to change the culture is unfortunate.
You fondly share the stage at public events with MDMK leader Vaiko which has spread the impression that AAP will be in alliance with Vaiko. I am certain this is detrimental to the party's interest and no such policy has been decided by the party.
Your vindictive behaviour against some active members of AAP also has often dismayed me.
I will restrain myself from listing more serious complaints that have not yet been convincingly presented to me.
I was disappointed with your leadership and I had therefore requested you to relieve me from the state committee. I am told that I have not been removed yet.
I therefore demand the following from AAP National Executive regarding Tamil Nadu as a member of the party.
1. Removal of Christina Samy from all positions based on impropriety charges.
2. Dissolution of the state committee and district committees that are not functioning and establishment of a new honest leadership.
3. Changes at the national level to processes and systems in the party.
At the National level
National Executive of AAP as well as state, district committees are initially top down preparatory bodies. The selection of these people has been based on their reputation known to the initiators of the party like Arvind, Yogendra Yadav or the national executive member from the state.
Unfortunately this process has an inbuilt bias. I demand the following
1. Reputation Audit of each National Executive, state and district committee member by publicly posting their profiles as well as an enquiry in their previous work area.
2. Seeking feedback from public will not only strengthen the choice and eliminate bad choices but also create an involvement in the public and interest in AAP. Local news paper advertisements and press releases will mobilise mass support in new territories.
3 In my view the theoretical party structure described in the AAP constitution..will never get implemented. We will not see inner party democracy till 2016 maybe never under present arrangement. More work is needed to improve this.
4. It is not an acceptable excuse to say we are busy with 2014 elections and will establish inter party democracy later maybe. If a massive exercise can be created to verify good candidates for election to hundreds of constituencies, we can surely do the reputation audit for our party office bearers in each district and then elect a state committee.
5. The current attitude of AAP National Executive seems to be: We registered the party. We are answerable to Election Commission and other authorities. We have a right therefore to decide who gets nominated. If you don't like it get out of the party.
I plead with AAP the following:
Yes your hard work and sacrifice made this party. I am just pointing out that you created a great precedence in selecting Delhi candidates by sort of taking public feedback. Please do that for your office bearers too. Use your own discretion too but take public feedback.
thank you for reading.
A signed copy sent to Original addressee
email sent to Some National Executive members and state committee members