Yadav, Bhushan sacked from AAP panel, may take legal recourse
New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) The month-long internecine war between AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and dissident leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan came to a head on Saturday with the duo being expelled from the party’s national executive for sabotaging the organisation.
The founder-members, who were ousted in a 247-8 vote at the 311-member National Council meeting – marred by protests and chaos – termed the decision a “farce and illegal”, saying they might seek legal recourse.
They also hinted at floating another party if required. An AAP source said their expulsion from the party was imminent since their case will be referred to the disciplinary committee.
Ever since the AAP came to power in the national capital by winning 67 of its 70 assembly seats, the party has been embroiled in an internal crisis that has pitted Bhushan and Yadav against Kejriwal, the party’s best known face. The duo has repeatedly questioned Kejriwal’s supremacy.
Hours after their ouster, Medha Patkar, a senior leader, announced in Mumbai that she was quitting the party, saying what happened in the meeting in New Delhi was disrespect to senior leaders and did not augur well for the future.
Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal was present at the meeting but left before the voting. The two others who were also sacked were Anand Kumar and Ajit Jha for siding with the rebel duo.
The meeting, chaired by Gopal Rai, started at 10 a.m. with the supporters of both camps shouting slogans against each other and holding banners. Yadav also held a protest outside the venue over denial of entry to “genuine” members.
A national council member told IANS that many members shouted slogans in favour of Yadav and Bhushan during the meeting and were reportedly forcibly removed.
A resolution to oust Yadav, Bhushan, Kumar and Jha was tabled by Kejriwal confidant Manish Sisodia.
AAP national secretary Pankaj Gupta told reporters that 247 members had voted in favour of the proposal for removing the four, while eight – including Delhi legislator Devender Sherawat – opposed it. Two gave their dissent in writing and 54 members expressed no view.
A member who attended the meet told IANS that Kejriwal told the members to “be either with him or with them (Yadav, Bhushan)”.
At a media meet later, a visibly upset Bhushan said: “It is true that we can move the court, Election Commission or call another meeting of the national council. All options are open.”
“I have been telling him (Kejriwal) this that he has dictatorial tendencies and he must curb them.
“I have failed. Instead of curbing these dictatorial tendencies, he has ruthlessly stifled any opposition,” he told reporters.
Yadav also said that goons were also present at the meet who beat their supporters.
AAP was quick to reject the charges as “baseless” with its leader Sanjay Singh saying that Yadav and Bhushan wanted to gain sympathy.
“No violence had taken place. No one was hit or injured,” he told media after the meeting.
Bhushan, a noted Supreme Court lawyer, claimed the AAP meeting was scripted while Yadav called it a “murder of democracy”.
“There was no distinction between members and invitees. Manish Sisodia announced they have a petition signed by 160 people… There was no voting, no discussion,” said Yadav, a psephologist and co-founder of AAP.
“There were many people who opposed it, they were not even given the chance. It is a total mockery of democracy.”
Yadav and Bhushan had five demands — transparency in the AAP, autonomy for local units, a Lokpal probe into graft charges against party members, AAP should come within the ambit of the RTI, and an end to secret ballot during election to key posts.
Anand Kumar, a Jawaharlal Nehru University professor who was also ousted, however said they will not leave the party.
Giving his account of the events, he said: “Kejriwal said we caused trouble in the elections, and asked members to decide whether we should be ousted. But they did not let us speak.”
“We are not out of the party. We will neither leave nor break the party. This is a party of the workers,” he said.