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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Dec 2014

Two years on, A divided house: Shanti Bhushan attacks Kejri, AAP bleeds

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times   New Delhi, August 14, 2014
First Published: 00:13 IST(14/8/2014) | Last Updated: 01:47 IST(14/8/2014)

War within the Aam Aadmi Party intensified Wednesday, with senior leader Shanti Bhushan questioning chief Arvind Kejriwal’s organisational skills, saying the former Delhi CM didn’t have it in him to turn the young party into a national force.

A founding member, Bhushan also criticised lack of democracy in AAP on the day it launched a door-to-door campaign to demand fresh elections in the Capital.

“Arvind (Kejriwal) is a great leader and a great campaigner, but in my opinion he lacks organisational ability,” the 88-year-old said. “He doesn’t have the kind of competence which can spread the message of the party all over India, which can quickly create elected structures of the party which nobody will be able to blame.”

Bhushan’s remarks were misplaced and the party had complete faith in Kejriwal, AAP said. Bhushan was unhappy with the party’s decision to not contest the upcoming Haryana polls, it said.

Bhushan’s son Prashant, also an AAP member, distanced himself from his father’s remarks, saying he didn’t share his views.

AAP has been battling dissent among senior ranks and has also had run-ins with volunteers, the backbone of the two-year-old party that lacks cadre strength.

HT reported on August 12 that volunteers would no longer have the final say in poll candidates, with Kejriwal accusing some of them of being selfish.

Bhushan also said Kejriwal, who was not an elected leader, couldn’t be the only voice of the party. “… because the national council appointed him convener of the national executive which is why he probably feels his voice is the main”, he said.

He was also critical of the slow pace of rebuilding the party, which was humiliated in the Lok Sabha elections months after a stunning poll debut in Delhi.

“This delay of two years in getting the elected structures in place is a great handicap. This is resulting in different voices,” he said.

After the Lok Sabha polls, Kejriwal had refused to give in to volunteers demand to dissolve top-decision making bodies — the political affairs committee and national executive. He instead called for Mission Vistaar (Mission Expansion) — enrol new members and then go for an overhaul.

Bhushan, it is learnt, was upset at party’s failure to act against those responsible for poll defeat and had even backed a group of volunteers who made a similar demand.

Denying Bhushan charges, AAP said the biggest example of internal democracy was that despite Kejriwal’s opposition, the party contested more than 400 Lok Sabha seats.

“We are the only party with inner party democracy and we have full faith in Kejriwal,” party leader Ashutosh said.

It is not the first time that Kejriwal has been accused of being authoritarian.

In an open letter to volunteers after the Lok Sabha rout, senior leader Yogendra Yadav had referred to Kejriwal as “supremo”, ruing lack of democracy.


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