A storm was headed for the Aam Aadmi Party on Monday with senior leader Prashant Bhushan accusing the party of running a "one person-centric" campaign that revolved around Arvind Kejriwal during the Delhi elections and was contrary to the party's principles.
Bhushan said the campaign was making the party look like other conventional parties and called for more "swaraj" within the organisation.
"Running one person-centric campaign may be effective, but does that justify sacrificing our principles? We will need to make a conscious course correction if we have to get away from a supremo-controlled party," Bhushan said in a letter to members of the AAP's national executive, which met last Thursday.
Serious differences appeared to have cropped up within the AAP, including over Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal's role in the party, with internal lokpal Admiral Ramdas pointing to two camps emerging within top leadership and asking the party to consider 'one-man, one-post' arrangement.
"Churning in AAP is not a clash of personalities but of ideas. This will make way for future politics of AAP… It’s clash of ideas between ultra left who demand referendum in Kashmir and pragmatic politics of welfarism," AAP leader and former journalist Ashutosh tweeted after Bhushan's letter became public.
Bhushan also sought transparency in the way funds were spent which, he claimed, was being done in an "arbitrary" manner. "The party now receives considerable donations. There is, however, no systematic planning on how these funds are to be spend. We do not have any empowered committee or decision making system of deciding on how the funds are to be spent," he said.
"We said that we would put out all our accounts on a public website... But far from bringing party under RTI, we haven't even put our accounts on website, we've put donations but not expenses," he added.
"Our party has been built on idealism and sweat and tears of thousands of volunteers who sacrificed much to create a different party… We owe it to them and must ensure that we don't drift and become just another one man centric party," the letter went on to add.
Bhushan also accused Kejriwal of not giving more to the states to take their decision on contesting elections. Bhushan and another AAP leader Yogendra Yadav wanted the party to contest the Haryana state elections, but another section led by Kejriwal was against it.
"Swaraj means decentralised decision making. On those principles it is the state unit who have to decide whether we should contest elections in the state. But we are deciding for them and ordering them not to contest elections.
"Even the National Executive had decided when to allow the states and when to contest elections but that decision was frustrated by Kejriwal by not allowing the states to contest elections. We made mockery of the principles of democracy and swaraj," Bhushan said.
"With the result that such decisions are being made in an arbitrary manner by a few people who are not authorised by the National Executive to take such decisions. There are some volunteers who are paid by the party, but a vast majority of them are not... Even these decisions need to be taken in a systematic and democratic manner," Bhushan said.
Yogendra Yadav, meanwhile, slammed on Monday the "fabricated" and "bizarre" reports about the crisis in the party involving him and colleague Bhushan. According to sources, the AAP founding members Yadav and Bhushan were said to either resign from the party or assume non-active roles amid difference on various issues.
"Voters in Delhi have given us a huge mandate and this is the time to work more with a large heart," Yadav wrote on Twitter.
"The country has placed a lot of hope with us. And I can only appeal that we should not lower that expectation with our petty actions. I pray that better sense prevails on us," he added.
After media reports stated that the party was looking at reconstituting the Parliamentary Affairs Committee (PAC) and keeping Yadav out of it, both party members expressed a desire to leave. AAP's national convener Arvind Kejriwal did not dissuade them, sources said.
Kejriwal did not attend the national executive meeting held on Thursday. According to party members, an argument between Yadav and other party members broke out. Another meeting was held on Friday which Yadav and Bhushan did not attend. It was in this meeting that the members asked Kejriwal to remain the national convener and reconstitute the PAC.
"We don't have regular meetings of NE or PAC as required by Constitution… In the infrequent meetings of PAC, some PAC members are often not informed," Bhushan wrote in his letter.