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8

Below is an email by one Rajeev Bajwa to Arvind Kejriwal and Pankaj Gupta (dated March 30, 2015) complaining of irregularities in donated funds. Aam Aadmi Party should act on this person's request and take appropriate action. This email has been leaked by a dissenting volunteer of AAP.

Hello Arvind ji & Pankaj ji,

My name is Rajeev Bajwa and I am AAP supporter from day one and one of the leading Donors from New Zealand and also one of three POC's of New Zealand.

I am writing in regards to the CASH DONATIONS (Rs. 49000.00) deposited on dated 06/05/2014 into the personal account of Ms. Preety Mehra's ICICI Noida Branch (Receipt attached)

BACKGROUND / OVERVIEW :

During Lok Sabha (PUNJAB) Elections May 2014 - S. Kaharg Sing Sidhu ji's took initiative and made an efforts to do a fund raiser night for AAP and we raised 10 lac of Donations on that night.

Out of these collected Donations;

8 Lac out of 10 lacs raised by sidhu ji was transferred via Girish Mailar's Indian passport - this caused us some trouble - We received many complaints from other volunteers that Girish has accepted all thanks and credits on his individual name and projected him self as he has donated this from his own pocket where as donations were collected in a fund raiser dinner - Resultant marked "?" on Girish's integrity amongst all other volunteers in NZ.

2 Lacs were transferred via my own Indian Passport - I declared every single rupee of that on social media giving all the due credit to all volunteers & donors especially Sidhu ji.

Couple of days before Varanasi elections Girish contacted me and asked to arrange an urgent funds transfer of Rs.100,000.00 into Preety Mehra's PERSONAL account held at ICICI Noida Branch.

When I asked reason that why we can not donate directly into AAP official account then Girish insisted me not to transfer into official AAP account because volunteers are not getting any funds in Varanasi and they are desperate for financial support and Girish assured & confirmed that it is coming from reliable source which includes Shalini Gupta, Prayas Chaudhary, Vijay Sirohi.

Girish further assured me & Sidhu ji that a proper official AAP donation receipt will be provided.

I discussed this matter with S. Kharag Singh Sidhu (2nd AAP POC of NZ in Auckland)

Considering the critical situation and as explained by Girish that the request is coming from reliable AAP volunteers we decided to go ahead however I decided to ring Pankaj Gupta ji for clarification on this.

I called Pankaj Gupta ji's personal mobile - Pankaj ji was very busy and asked me to call one his assistant.

I spoke to Pankaj ji's assistant and I was told that it is NOT allowed to donate in ANY of the volunteers personal accounts and I was asked to provide names of those volunteers if someone is asking to transfer funds into their personal accounts.

I further raised this feedback with Girish & Sidhu ji that it is NOT officially recommended and is a BIG NO NO.

Girish then contacted these volunteers and provided their phone numbers in India, I spoke to Anurag, he said he is in Varanasi with Varun Gupta and they are 20 -30 people and they ran out of funds and do not have any support from AAP at that stage and they desperately need cash to arrange food for volunteers.

He also promised to send us photos of current location and scenario once they get a chance.

After considering all this and thinking we need to take risk, we (Sidhu ji, Myself) agreed to Girish's request to send them money. Girish further insisted that they need money immediately so I had to call my Father in India (Hoshiarpur) to deposit Rs. 100,000.00 into the personal account of Preety Mehra (wife of Varun Gupta - Seattle USA) held at ICICI Noida branch.

My father was very busy so he had to send one of his employee (Manjit Singh) to deposit cash in Preety's a/c -

To ensure that money has been received by correct person, I tried to contact Anurag & Varun repeatedly on their mobiles but they did not pick up my phone at all. Luckily it was only first installment of Rs.49000.00 out of one lac was deposited. As you can not deposit more that Rs49000.00 cash in one particular day otherwise banks ask for further details of income etc, etc..

Later after raising this matter further with Girish, I was given an online meeting details on fuse so that I can clarify if I want to clarify this matter further but I never received any official donation receipt or any photos from Varanasi as promised by Varun Gupta & Anurag over the phone.

After two days of chase I received a wahts up message that Rs. 49000.00 were received into Preety's account.

Till date Varun Gupta failed to make ANY effort to clarify this unaccounted donation received by him rather it seems to me that he is avoiding this matter including me personally on all fronts i.e. social media etc.

I may be wrong and my observations may be wrong - I am not trying to judge any ONE person here. All I want to REQUEST you is that please chase this tail so that we can find out if there are any MORE similar anomalies in FUNDS transferred to personal accounts.

Regards,

Rajeev Bajwa

[Note: This email describes a donation clearly made against the advice of AAP leaders. It is also written after the current crisis in AAP emerged and as such, I see this more as a complaint of misdeeds by rogue volunteers/workers than an allegation on the party itself.]

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.

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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.

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Update: @Kapsology on Twitter raised some doubt about a missing line that I did not understand. Given the volatile nature of opinion around this issue, here is the original email trail @MPunjab1 speaks about in the article for anyone interested to download and independently verify. Original email trail regarding accusations against Shalini Gupta

With reference to the following hit piece by Ajaz Ashraf: Read the controversial emails by Prashant Bhushan's sister that pushed AAP to breaking point

Let me expose the lies in this hit piece one by one which will prove one of the following is true by the time you're done reading my analysis:

  1. Ajaz Ashraf has access to the original emails yet chose to deliberately twist & lie in order to malign Shalini Gupta.
  2. Ajaz Ashraf does not have access to the original emails and was simply passed selective sections (cut-paste) and "used" to plant a hit piece.

Para #2 - Lie #1

This strain had been caused by two emails sent by senior leader Prashant Bhushan’s US-based sister, Shalini Gupta, to members of the AAP GlobalGroup, which consists of 700-800 NRI contacts of the party.

FACT: No such email or message was sent to AAP Global which is the Google Group for NRI volunteers from all around the world.

Instead, there was a private exchange between at the most 10 members of the Chicago chapter related to AAPs "Adopt a Constituency" program. The entire article takes that exchange out of context with the sole purpose to malign Shalini Gupta.

Para #2 - Lie #2

In the messages, Gupta tacitly discouraged members from donating money to the AAP’s war-chest on the grounds that Kejriwal had fielded corrupt candidates in the Delhi assembly elections.

FACT: Either the "journo" does not know the meaning of the word tacit or is trying to create drama & innuendo where none exist. Shalini Gupta states as a matter of fact that there is controversy around some candidates due to volunteer objection and the matter has been referred to the Lokpal.

In light of the allegations on several candidates, she advises the group that:"We need to support candidates who we are confident will work in public interest if elected."

I suppose such statements can be construed as "discouraging members from donating money" if you have a vivid imagination!

Para #3 - Observation

Her emails sent shockwaves through the party higher echelons, ...

OBSERVATION: Why did the party "higher echelons" NOT take IMMEDIATE and STERN action against Shalini Gupta after experiencing SHOCKWAVES? Why did they wait till *after* the make-or-break elections to "expose" Shalini Gupta and that too through a "leaked" piece in the media?

Why did the "higher echelons" risk losing the NRI supporters who constitute 30% of AAPs funding and play the role of a major moral, intellectual and financial support base? If the statement in the article is to be believed it smacks of gross incompetence on part of the "higher echelons."

Para #4 - Lie #3

Her emails demonstrate that she was not willing to wait for the verdict of the AAP Lokpal, Admiral (retd) L Ramdas, on the suitability of 12 nominations that were being challenged.

FACT: Nowhere do Shalini's emails (there are 3 in the entire exchange) demonstrate that she was not willing to wait for the verdict of the Lokpal. Infact, Shalini is giving a mature "heads-up" by stating that:

  1. There are serious complaints against some candidates
  2. Party Lokpal will be examining the charges
  3. Tickets of some of these candidates may have to be cancelled.

Also see the FACTs for Para #5 - Lie #4 below.

Para #5 - Lie #4

Yet emails sent by Gupta on January 5 and January 6 show she had already made up her mind that Kejriwal was guilty of violating party norms by choosing dubious candidates.

FACT: Nowhere does Shalini pre-suppose guilt. In her Jan 5 email she asks one volunteer to obtain the feedback on a candidate under consideration by contacting the ground team in Delhi and volunteers who have worked with the candidate in the past.

In her Jan 6 email, Shalini Gupta categorically states the following:
"That is the mandate to the Lokpal now to determine if these candidates pass the moral standards test expected of an AAP candidate."

Once more, it takes the vivid imagination of a "journo" to conclude that this"demonstrates she was not willing to wait for the verdict of the AAP Lokpal"or "she had already made up her mind"

I'll stop here because I don't think such a poorly executed hit piece deserves further effort on my part to debunk it. Trust me, the rest of the article can be dismantled line by line if one has access to the original email chain. I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader once Ajaz Ashraf demonstrates the ethics of his profession by revealing the full email chain that he claims to have access to! 😉

The onus is now on Ajaz Ashraf and Scroll.in to come clean by disclosing the entire email chain AND revealing the source which planted this hit piece through him / them.

Guest post by @MPunjab1 on Twitter