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Satya Pal Singh. Editorial.III. III. XV

 

AAP: One Man Demolition Squad!

 



Satya Pal Singh-fnbworld By Satya Pal Singh


 

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal

 

So, the ethical 'one-man, one-post' norm and the desirability of inner-party democracy have come to test the resilience of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as a force that is raring to go national, carrying a leader at the helm who is not willing to entertain voices of dissent. At a time when persisting differences within the party's core group are taking a toll of its aspirations, it seems not too far when the party will vertically split, leaving Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal further emboldened in his autocratic streak, a la historic split of Congress in late sixties when the old guard parted ways into a Syndicate, leaving an unfettered field for Indira Gandhi.  

 

Manish
Sisodia and Yogendra Yadav

 

Political wisdom suggests that differences within a working team must be tactfully handled and absorbed when it comes to scaling the mountain. But what, if its leader proceeds on his own shots, uncared of the building block around? Kejriwal as AAP's national convener and Delhi CM may have power to influence people, but ostensibly lacks political maturity, the proverbial asset of a seasoned politician that becomes his ultimate driving force. The result is AAP that made history barely a fortnight ago is today tottering under the weight of its own contradictions.


So far a close Kejriwal confidant, who missed being in Delhi's power centre narrowly, is sore that a CM who must be seen striving to keep his flock close to his chest after such a massive mandate, surprisingly, is not putting his act together. Top party ideologues who have significantly contributed to building and promoting the party, he says, "don't matter to him anymore. He seems to believe AAP success is his personal success. I am sorry to say he is out to break the party." 


So, Kejriwal's mercurial temperament is the bane of all trouble. Clearly, there are two camps within the nascent outfit which still is searching for ground at the national level. Those close to the CM are hell-bent on outsmarting the troika of ideologues, Shanti-Prasant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, who have been the known source of inspiration behind AAP's rise, closely on the heels of Anna Hazare's Jan Lokpal Andolan. They are accused of "hatching conspiracy against the CM with the intention to destabilize his position."


Riding on an overwhelming majority on its side, a confident  Kejriwal camp has called a meeting of AAP's national executive on march 4 to press for a conclusive showdown that may see the trio first thrown out of the political affairs committee (PAC)and then eventually out of the party. Sensing trouble, both Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav seem to be lying low : while Yadav publicly accepts Kejriwal's primacy in the party, Bhushan seeks postponement of the PAC meet as he is unavailable on March 4  "due to preoccupation."


Prashant Bhushan challenges Kejri's style of functioning: "One person-centric campaign which was run during this election in Delhi is making our party look more and more like other conventional parties...running a person-centric campaign may be effective, but does that justify sacrificing our principles?...We need to fulfill our promise of bringing the party within the purview of RTI." He also demands the party compulsively post details of all donations online. Kejri views the tone and tenor of Bhushan's objections and suggestions as outbursts of an envious conspirator. 


Does Bhushan, then, want to become party convener himself or wants Yogendra Yadav to take that position, so that Kejriwal may be reined in when he goes out of bounds? Possibly yes ; both have national ambitions, as has Kejriwal. Bhushan thinks he is a prominent lawyer and activist with an enviable background. His father Shanti Bhushan, as pleader for late Socialist leader Lokbandhu Raj Narain, who had lost to Indira Gandhi in Rae Bareilly election in early seventies, which was legally found to have been tampered, was instrumental in bringing downfall of the late Prime Minister. Bhushan feels he possesses his father's tough generic guts to take on Kejriwal. But as the fissures have irresistibly gone public, AAP's founder-member Shanti Bhushan, a former Union Minister, says Prashant and Yogendra Yadav both must support Kejriwal and that the CM should continue also as the party's national convener. It may be recalled Shanti Bhushan had welcomed Kiran Bedi's chief ministerial nomination by BJP and wanted her to take command of Delhi. What exactly the elder Bhushan says is simply difficult to understand. Is the grand old man really pleading for AAP’s unity or is he saying so feeling the heat gradually reaching his son?


The younger Bhushan is forgetting, however, that here the case is different: while a powerful Kejriwal has the horde of 67 MLAs and almost all the senior party leaders on his side, he just has Yogendra Yadav to back him. Above that, Kejriwal wields power and enjoys the image of a "self-sacrificing Samaritan" who, as an iconic leader, promises fruits of a clean governance first to Delhi and then to rest of the Indian nation. He has already strewn around seeds of veritable hope in the form of freebies that may accrue to beneficiaries on large scale without being too burdensome on the exchequer. He has done so by flaunting his version that these benefits would be passed on to people by putting an effective check on the long-flourishing corrupt practices within the system.


Apart from Kejriwal holding dual positions, what has shaken the party is whether it should stay focused on Delhi or should it expand to other states. While the Kejri camp feels that AAP's growth will be determined by its performance in Delhi and that it will be premature and risky to spread its wings to other states without a strong organization being in place, Yadav group feels that the time was ripe for the party to ride on the popular goodwill and expand its influence to other states.


The absence of debate within the party on issues of vital interest to the people, where Kejriwal and his loyalist group unilaterally take major decisions, has even drawn the party's internal Lokpal Admiral L Ramdas worrying. He has flashed a letter to PAC, lamenting the "abject breakdown in communication and mutual trust within the top leadership…today we are a national party and we can no longer keep our vision limited to Delhi." He also calls for broad-based debate to consider the necessity or otherwise of “one-man, one-post" arrangement. If consensus is reached on this ethical aspect, Kejriwal can stay either as CM or national convener. If he prefers to go national, with focus on prime ministership, Dy CM Manish Sisodia would be upgraded as Delhi CM, a possibility I had talked about 10 days ago. But the kind of promises Kejriwal has made to voters in Delhi, it looks unlikely they would let him go, demitting the office of CM. 


Also, Kejriwal understands it too well that unless AAP delivers exceptionally to people's satisfaction in Delhi, the party has no future elsewhere. So, Kejriwal appears a little justified in his stand, whatever his detractors may say. They, too, have a point in insisting on inclusive approach to governance. Absence of debates and brain-storming sessions on crucial issues irks them. Kejri is just one key functionary of the party, just first among equals. Since no one person, howsoever popular, foresighted or hard-working he or she may be, can build a party alone. Kejri must start listening to this disgruntled lot as he has done in the past. If Bhushan and Yadav were key ideologues at the party's off-take stage, and lent verve to Kejriwal’s outbursts without reservation, why should they be humiliated today ? Both of them worked as hard for the party as did Kejriwal himself. The party's need today is they must sail together, they must work together. Let them get into their strides to save the party. If not, the CM will slip into an era of oddities!

 

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