Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal consolidated his position in the dissidence-riddled party through sweeping changes in the outfit’s crucial organs on Sunday, removing Prashant Bhushan from the disciplinary committee and replacing internal Lokpal Admiral (retired) L Ramdas with a team of three ombudsmen.
The party’s national council and Lokpal panel were packed with loyalists of the Delhi chief minister in an apparent mopping-up exercise after it sacked dissident founder-leaders Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav from its highest body, the national executive, on Saturday for alleged anti-party activities.
Sunday’s moves capped a month-long slander match between the Kejriwal camp and rebels whose removal from key panels is viewed as a precursor to their expulsion from the party.
“Some friends backstabbed us … Conspiracies were hatched to ensure our defeat in the Delhi polls,” Kejriwal said at the national council meet. “Prashantji told many people that we think the party should lose then only can the party and Kejriwal learn a lesson. Senior editors of two big news channels have told me that Yogendra Yadav was planting stories against me.”
The purge of the rebels was completed when Dinesh Waghela was chosen to head the three-member disciplinary committee, which also has national secretary Pankaj Gupta and Ashish Khetan, all close aides of Kejriwal.
The party removed Ramdas — apparently without bothering to inform him — and set up a new Lokpal panel, comprising former IPS officers N Dilip Kumar and Rakesh Sinha besides educationist SP Verma at a meeting at the chief minister’s home.
“It is with great surprise and sadness that I heard from a reporter that the Aam Aadmi Party no longer requires my services as its internal Lokpal. I am disappointed that the leadership of the party did not ... inform before making this decision public. I still await their phone call,” a miffed Ramdas said as he shot off a letter to the party’s political affairs committee criticising the leadership.
Sources said Ramdas should have got the drift after national secretary Gupta sent an SMS, asking him not to attend Saturday’s national council meeting to avoid a confrontation.
The former navy chief’s successor, Kumar, is known for his stand against corruption during his tenure with Delhi Police. He was part of the Delhi government’s anti-corruption helpline, launched during the AAP’s controversy-marred 49-day rule in 2014.
The AAP announced a committee to oversee its agitation against the NDA government’s land acquisition bill on April 22 when the party plans to gherao Parliament.
It also formed a panel under senior leader Sanjay Singh to explore ways to expand its national footprint.