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Yadav, Bhushan sacked from AAP's national executive

The National Council of the Aam Aadmi Party on Saturday passed a resolution expelling founding members Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan from the party's national executive

delhi Updated: Mar 29, 2015 01:42 IST
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In an acrimonious showdown spurred by Arvind Kejriwal’s “either me or them” charge, the AAP on Saturday sacked rebel leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, along with two of their supporters, from its national executive, pushing the party towards a split.

“Democracy was murdered and Kejriwal looked away,” Yadav said of the decision taken at a meeting of the Aam Aadmi Party’s 392-member national council. The rebel camp claimed the proceedings were rigged, rules flouted and ‘bouncers’ brought in to keep away those who disagreed with the Delhi chief minister.

Saturday’s action — which followed the duo’s March 4 ouster from the political affairs committee, AAP’s top decision-making body, and a total breakdown in reconciliation efforts — could be a prelude to their sacking from the party itself. Expulsion is not possible without a formal case of indiscipline, and AAP said it would be taking disciplinary action against those making anti-party statements in the media.

Dramatic scenes played out at the venue — a resort owned by a party MLA on the Kapashera border — as volunteers from both camps kept up a steady war of words, shouting “party humaari aap ki, nahi kisi ke baap ki” and “gaddaron ko bahar nikalon”.

Inside, Kejriwal — having kept a studied silence all this while — made his case in an hour-long address. “If the party decides, I will quit and relinquish all posts. Now it is up to you to decide if you want me or them,” a senior AAP leader quoted the CM as saying. “Two groups of AAP were working in the Delhi election… When the whole party was working towards victory, the other was scheming for its defeat,” he reportedly said.

Video:

Bouncers at AAP meeting, ruckus was planned from before: Yogendra Yadav

Kejriwal left the meeting immediately after his speech, and moments later his deputy Manish Sisodia moved a resolution to remove Bhushan and Yadav and their supporters Anand Kumar and Ajit Jha from the 21-member national executive. “Of 392 council members, 311 attended, of which 247 voted to oust the four while eight voted in their support. Two members submitted dissent notes while 54 abstained or walked,” an AAP statement said.

Yadav and Bhushan claimed many of their supporters were not allowed to vote while many non-council members were let in. They also said people who disagreed with Kejriwal were beaten up and thrown out, a charge denied by Sanjay Singh from the rival camp.

This may not be the end of AAP’s troubles. Soon after, Maharashtra leader and social activist Medha Patkar resigned from primary membership of the party, condemning the “political tamasha” and defending Bhushan and Yadav as honest party workers.

"What happened at the AAP meeting in Delhi today is unfortunate," Patkar told reporters in Mumbai after announcing she was leaving the party.

"Political principles are being trampled upon in the party," said the veteran activist, who has been a key figure in the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit.

Later in the evening, Yadav and Bhushan met party leaders and volunteers “to talk about the future course of action”. Yadav admitted his persistent belief that he “will neither leave the party nor break it” had “suffered a setback”. Asked if they would float a new party, he said, “We’re shocked. We need to recover from today’s events. We will sit with volunteers and think.”

“All options — including approaching the courts (for illegal voting), Election Commission and police (for violence) — are open,” said Bhushan. Political rivals were quick to mock AAP. “Mein to pahle se hi kahta tha ki na khata na bahi, jo Kejriwal kahe wahi sahi (there is no system in AAP, whatever Kejriwal says is right),” said the Congress’ Digvijaya Singh. The BJP called the happenings in the fledgling party a “power struggle” and its senior leader Arun Jaitley remarked, “The promises AAP and its leaders have made to the public, they must fulfil them. They should not let this historical opportunity go waste because of their immature politics.”

Split wide open

Chances of a truce had nosedived on Friday as Bhushan and Yadav publicly accused Kejriwal of stifling internal democracy and adopting unfair means to capture power, while the other camp hit back, alleging that the party veterans were trying to sabotage the two-year-old outfit.

Adding fuel to the bitter feud, an audio sting tape surfaced late in the evening in which Kejriwal is purportedly heard hurling invectives at Yadav and Bhushan, saying he was not interested in talking to them and that if needed he would quit AAP and float a new party with his 67 MLAs.

Analysts say if the tape is authentic, this shows that while the Delhi chief minister was publicly silent as the dispute was snowballing, he had probably made up his mind that there could be no reconciliation and the two senior leaders had to go.

Yadav and Bhushan alleged at a press conference that any issue raised by them was being projected as questioning Kejriwal's leadership and attempts to remove him from the post of AAP's national convenor.

The party has been torn between two camps, one supporting Kejriwal and the other comprising veterans like Yadav and Bhushan who have accused the chief minister of running things in a dictatorial way.

Yadav and Bhushan said they will quit all "executive posts" if the 5 demands they had placed before the leadership—including bringing the party under the ambit of the RTI Act, ordering a probe by the AAP's ombudsman into allegations of wrongdoing and giving state units more autonomy—were met.

"We had sent a note to the party placing our demands which is now being shown as our resignation letter, whereas it was a conditional letter to resign. We had said if our five demands are met, we will resign from all party posts," Yadav said.

Bhushan criticised Kejriwal accusing him of trying to poach Congress legislators to form a government in Delhi last year.

The Kejriwal camp struck back minutes later, saying Yadav and Bhushan were attempting to damage the party and discredit it with baseless allegations.

(With PTI inputs)