AAP leader Ashutosh's new book breaks down all it takes to fight polls

  • Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Apr 04, 2015 16:23 IST

The Crown Prince, The Gladiator & The Hope
Rs 350; PP 330

Senior journalist and AAP leader Ashutosh's new book looks at what it takes to fight an election in India. One of the most interesting chapters deals with the power struggle within the party. An excerpt.

There was much to do as a perception had begun to grow that the party was in disarray and people were quitting. Shazia Ilmi was one of them… She wanted a role with a significantly higher profile. She held a press conference at the Press Club in Delhi at the same time that the PAC was meeting at Prashant Bhushan's house for deliberations. Her press conference went live on all channels… We listened to her and decided to react... No harsh words were uttered - Yogendra Yadav was very polite, wished her luck and hoped that one day she would again be with the party...

But the crisis that had been brewing for some time went much deeper. Yogendra Yadav, leading psephologist and political analyst... was also unhappy with the state of things... Yogendra had a big role in shaping the party's policies... He hails from Haryana and was the party head there; the hope was that if the AAP fared well, he would be the main contender for the post of the chief minister of Haryana... Yogendra Yadav, who was naturally looking forward to the nomination, was deeply disappointed when the party secured a mere 4 per cent of the vote share in Haryana in the parliamentary elections. He polled only 75,000 votes, which was just about enough to save his deposit, the worst form of loss in an election.

The Haryana results had shocked the party and on the heels of defeat, inner-party quarrels ensued. Naveen Jaihind, a young Jat leader and close confidant of Arvind from the days of the Anna movement, and Yogendra were at loggerheads… Yogendra complained bitterly to Arvind, who had already spoken to Naveen…

After Arvind resigned as CM, he wrote a letter to the lieutenant governor of Delhi, Najeeb Jung, requesting him not to dissolve the assembly which was put under suspended animation, as he wanted to seek the people's opinion about forming a government again… The following day, Arvind held a press conference, apologized to the people for resigning without consulting them and promised not to repeat the mistake if he was given another chance to run the government. He also said that Delhi should hold fresh elections and a new government should take over.


Kejriwal flanked by Yogendra Yadav (right) and Sanjay Singh (left)

Yogendra... expressed his displeasure that these were serious matters which should be discussed by the party before making public declarations... During a political affairs committee meeting session... Pankaj Gupta announced that Yogendra had shot off a letter to the members of the national executive announcing his resignation from all party posts except the national executive. Frantic telephone calls were made requesting him to come for the PAC meeting and sort things out but he declined. Finally, we decided to go to his house en masse and hold the meeting there. When Yogendra learnt of this plan, he decided that it would be better to get off his high horse and came over to join us.

Yogendra had made a list of seven contentious issues: 1. Absence of mechanism for consulting volunteers; 2. The neglect of the national executive in favour of PAC, which had usurped all powers; 3. Lack of proper functioning within the PAC; 4. Inadequate attention to the issues of the states; 5. Neglect of building up the organization; 6. Policy deficit; 7. Supremo style, rather than a democratic style, of functioning.

Of these, the most serious was the issue of leadership, which was construed as an attack on Arvind's style of functioning. He wrote, 'There is a widespread perception... that the party is falling prey to the disease of a personality cult that afflicts all the political parties in the country. There is no one who doubts that Arvind-bhai is the undisputed leader within the party... But there is a difference between a leader and a supremo. Love and affection for the leader often turns into a personality cult that can damage the organization and the leader himself. This is what appears to be happening in our party... Let me reiterate that Arvind-bhai is no ordinary leader and there are no two opinions about his continuing as the national convener... The real question is whether there are limits to the personal discretion of the leader.'…

This was a bombshell… Yogendra was not willing to withdraw his resignation …The national executive meeting was scheduled for three days (from 6 to 8 June 2014) to discuss the election results and plan ahead. It started on a sombre note… Around 6 p.m., Anjali (Damania) became very distraught and showed us a newsflash on her mobile which reported that two or three television channels were debating the topic: 'How Arvind has ruined the party'. Arvind's face fell. He rose and excused himself to leave the room. He started to say something, but couldn't continue. He broke down and as the tears fell unheeded, he crumpled to the floor. Anjali and I rushed to him. She put her arms around him and tried to console him. Soon Anjali began crying as well and shouted, 'We should all be ashamed of ourselves. This is what we have given him, he who has given us so much.' After some time, Arvind regained his composure. By now, everyone had gathered around him. He could barely manage to say, 'I have not left my job and other good things of life just to become the convener of the party. I don't want this. Please elect someone else as national convener.' And his eyes welled up again. I didn't know how to comfort him; none of us did and our hearts broke as we watched Arvind weep. I offered him some water... It took him longer to attain a semblance of composure... This was the first time ever that Arvind showed despair in the face of adversity…

Yogendra Yadav met Arvind at his residence the next day and Prashant Bhushan also joined them to travel together... They were late for the conference; however, Arvind was back in the saddle, looking far more confident and in command once again. He was undeniably the leader. There was no challenge to his leadership…

Also read:

AAP rift: Support grows for Yadav, Bhushan; showdown on April 14

Crisis in AAP leaves us with more questions than answers

Chaos rules first 49 days of AAP rule, but some promises met

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