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HindustanTimes Tue,30 Sep 2014

AAP in agony: dissent and resignations put party in crisis

Brajesh Kumar, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 24, 2014
First Published: 19:22 IST(24/5/2014) | Last Updated: 14:49 IST(25/5/2014)

Even before the serious setback the Aam Aadmi Party received in the Lok Sabha sank in, it is buffeted by another blow in the form resignation of its national executive member and its Muslim face Shazia Ilmi on Saturday.

She resigned from the party saying it lacked inner party democracy, running as it was by a clique of four, and that she did not approve of the sensational hit and run approach the party had adopted even since it was formed over a year ago.

While some would call Ilmi’s move as ill-timed, deserting the ship when it is flailing in the rough sea, the signs of it were there from very beginning. And the allegations she has leveled against the party and its chief Arvind Kejriwal have not been uttered for the first time. 

Other like party’s MLA from Laxmi Nagar Vinod Kumar Binny, its founding member Madhu Bhaduri, its prominent Muslim face Firoz Bakht, and its legal cell member Ashwini Upadhyay have raised similar questions. But they were termed ambitious and their protests insignificant.

This time however the party cannot brush aside Ilmi’s allegations with the same broom as others before and needs serious introspection as what has gone wrong.

So what exactly has gone wrong with the party that not so long ago won plaudits for its alternative politics and of course for its stupendous success at the Delhi assembly election? One does not need to go far in the history of fledgling party to decipher what went wrong. Ilmi in her press conference very clearly delineated every malaise the party suffers from.

Even though the national executive, party’s one of the top decision making bodies, and of which Shazia was a part of, has 23 members, all the decisions are taken by three to four people. And as Shazia alleged, this clique is not accessible to the rest, let alone the volunteers. Every major decision taken by the party ranging from the resignation of Arvind Kejriwal as Delhi’s chief minister to the party contesting over 400 constituencies to Kejriwal taking on Narendra Modi from Varanasi was taken by this clique.

Even the candidates for over 400 seats the party contested in the lok Sabha elections was decided by the few leaders, disregarding the inputs by the state and district committees. In Shazia’s case the party first tried to force her to take on Congress president Sonia Gandhi from Rae Bareli, and when she put her foot down she was shifted to Ghaziabad seat, denying her any constituency in Delhi. For a party which claimed swaraj as its primary goal, it could not afford lack of democracy in its own setup.  

Party’s habit of changing goalposts all too often also alienated a number of its supporters. From fighting corruption, which was its first poll plank, it jumped on Communalism to enable it to fight Modi and BJP, without even battling an eyelid. Similarly from its earlier declaration of focusing on few select seats in the Lok Sabha elections, it went on to field over 400 candidates spreading itself too thin.

The other malaise the party suffers from is its sole focus on hit and run politics and calling names instead of offering tangible solutions. The party’s entire campaign in the run up to Lok Sabha election was negative.

Be that as it may, Shazia’s resignation should be a wake up call for the party and its time the party seriously introspect what needs to be done to enable it make a strong come back. After all, only six months ago it had raised millions hopes.          


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