NEW DELHI, March 28: Less than two months after it stormed to power in the tiol capital, the AAP virtually split on Saturday after it expelled four dissident leaders, including Prashant Bushan and Yogendra Yadav, from its tiol Executive in a stormy meet marred by chaos and protests.
The duo, who are the founding members of country's youngest political party, reiterated that AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal was a “dictator” and said they would approach the court against the “illegal” decision taken at the party’s tiol council meeting.
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 party’s future.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was present in the meeting, but left before the crucial voting. The two others who were also sacked were And Kumar and Ajit Jha for siding with the rebel duo.
The meeting started at 10 am with the supporters of both the camp shouting slogans and holding banners against each other. Yadav also held a protest outside the venue over the denial of entry to “genuine” members.
A tiol council member told IANS that many shouted slogans in favour of Yadav and Bhushan during the meeting. Many were reportedly forcibly removed from the meet.
At the AAP’s tiol Council which was attended by 311 members, a resolution to oust Yadav, Bhushan, And Kumar and Ajit Jha was tabled by Kejriwal confidant Manish Sisodia.
Two gave their dissent in writing and 54 members expressed no view, he added.
AAP tiol secretary Pankaj Gupta told reporters that 247 members had voted in favour of the proposal of removing the four members, while eight opposed. Delhi legislator Devender Sherawat was also one of the eight.
A member who attended the meet told IANS that Kejriwal told the members to “be either with him or with them (Yadav, Bhushan)”.
A visibly upset Bushan later said: “It is true that we can move the court, Election Commission or call another meeting of the tiol 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 in 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. “Everything happened there in a planned manner. It seems that everything was scripted.”
“This is 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.
Ever since the AAP came to power in the tiol capital by winning 67 of its 70 assembly seats, the party has been embroiled in an interl crisis that has pitted Bhushan and Yadav against Kejriwal, the party’s best known face.
And 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. IANS