Differences within the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) again came to fore when its patron Shanti Bhushan hit out at Arvind Kejriwal, questioning his organisational skills and internal democracy in the party.
"Arvind (Kejriwal) is a great leader and a great campaigner, but in my opinion he lacks
organisational ability. He does not have the kind of competence which can spread the message of the party all over India, which can quickly create elected structures of the party which nobody will be able to blame," Bhushan said.
"Therefore this delay of two years in getting the elected structures in place is a great handicap. This is resulting in different voices," he told Times Now TV channel.
The criticism coming from the party patron assumes significance as there has been a discontent brewing within the party cadre and even some senior leaders over "lack of democracy" and "Swaraj" at the time when it is gearing up for assembly elections after its drubbing in Lok Sabha polls.
The party last month sacked Karan Singh, a senior volunteer, after he along with other party workers formed AAP Volunteers Vichar Manch (AVAM) to raise issues concerning volunteers, complaining lack of internal democracy in the party. Bhushan had come out in support of AVAM.
The senior lawyer said that since Kejriwal is not an elected leader he cannot claim to be the sole voice of the party.
"Today, since he does not owe his position as an elected person by all India members of the party therefore he cannot say his voice is the sole voice of the party. Possibly, he thinks that because the National Council appointed him as convenor of the National Executive which is why he probably feels his voice is the main", he said.
Meanwhile, the party has said that it does not agree with the comments made by Bhushan.
"The criticism by Bhushan, who is himself one of the founding members of the party, on this issue is misplaced.
"The biggest example of internal democracy is the party's decision to contest Lok Sabha elections on a large number of seats, despite opposition from the AAP national convenor, Arvind Kejriwal," the party said.
The party said that Bhushan is apparently unhappy at the party's decision of not contesting the upcoming Haryana assembly elections.
"He had his own views on the issue, but the party's National Executive and the Political Affairs Committee decided against contesting Haryana elections.
"Bhushan has access to everyone in the party and his colleagues expect him to raise any issue which he considers important, with them, as a senior. It is unfortunate that he has aired his views publicly," the party said in a statement.
Shanti Bhushan said that in order to spread the party across the country, Kejriwal should share his responsibilities.
"He (Kejriwal) should reorganise the functions. So far spreading the party all over India, he should share the responsibility with someone else who has enough time and enough talent in organisational work.
"He should remain the chief campaigner and the face of the party because he has those qualities. He is very sharp and a great strategist but it is important for the party that his message reaches across the country," Bhushan said.
He also criticised Kejriwal for resigning as the Delhi Chief Minister. Terming the move as "political immaturity", Bhushan said that the AAP National Convenor did not consult him while taking such a major step.
"It is a sign of political immaturity. He should have consulted experienced people before taking that decision. He admits that he made that mistake. He has assured me that he would consult me on important issues," he said.
The party said that it was still evolving and addressing the organisational concerns.
"The AAP was formed less than two years back and is still in the evolving process. Many of the organisational concerns are being addressed as a part of the ongoing developmental process.
"At this juncture the party is gearing up for fresh assembly elections in Delhi and the organisational preparation is at an advanced stage," the party said in its statement.
Meanwhile, former AAP leader Shazia Ilmi, who quit the party also hit out at Kejriwal.
"I resigned from the party and I would like to echo Shanti Bhushanji's sentiments that there is indeed a lack of inner party democracy, there is a lack of organisational skills. Voice of dissent and constructive criticism is not appreciated.
"A coterie is running the show and it is not doing a good job and its preventing volunteers from participating in a more self-expressed way or from taking the best decisions for the party and people," Ilmi said.
© Copyright © 2013 HT Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.