AAP rebel duo Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan on Tuesday lashed out against Arvind Kejriwal's "cult politics" but vowed to continue their "struggle for swaraj” without leaving the organisation.
Yadav and Bhushan’s followers too backed their leaders, voting overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the party to continue the fight which has split the party in two, barely a few weeks after storming to power in Delhi.
After an eight-hour-long meeting of supporters from various states, a resolution was passed to set up the new group -- Swaraj Abhiyan-- which will try to establish the concept of "swaraj" and work for strengthening "alternative politics."
The decision not to walk out of the AAP emerged during a day-long meeting -- dubbed as ‘swaraj samwad’ – of the rebel camp. This is the first meeting since Yadav and Bhushan were expelled from the party’s top echelons last month.
Swaraj Samvad is dialogue on alternative politics: Yogendra Yadav
The two factions have been engaged in an often-ugly and public spat ever since the sweeping mandate in February, with Yadav and Bhushan accusing Kejriwal of running the party like a dictator and gagging democracy.
Kejriwal had hit back by removing all dissident leaders from the party’s top decision-making organs.
“We will not leave the party. We will keep up our struggle and reassess the situation later,” Yadav said in his address during the meeting, keeping their options open for a declaration later.
Party workers were distributed printed forms with a few options on their future course of action.
70 percent voted for staying in the party “as far as possible, struggle for swaraj and public agitations”. Twenty-six percent of the remaining, however, favoured quitting the AAP now and forming a new party “immediately”.
Voice of each and every volunteer to be recognised at #SwarajSamwad in presence of media. Model of Transparency & Volunteers' participation!— Swaraj Samwad (@swarajsamwad) April 14, 2015
A resolution adopted at the end of the meeting “promised to live up to principled politics”, a stand taken by both Yadav and Bhushan in their speeches.
“Today is not the day to form a new party, we need to prepare,” Yadav told the meeting earlier.
However, the tone and tenor of both Yadav and Bhushan indicated they were prepared for any action the Kejriwal-led faction is likely to take for the open show of defiance.
“We might be ousted from the party and get a show-cause notice…(but) we will not deter,” Yadav said.
Yadav did not name Kejriwal but there was no ambiguity in who he was referring to as he said, “We want swaraj, it becomes one-man raj. We wanted to be a national force, now risk becoming regional party.”
He added, “Sach kehna agar bagawat hai toh samjho hum bhi baghi hai (If speaking the truth is rebellion, then we are rebels).”
Prashant Bhushan too said that the camp “won't form new party as of now”, but did not rule out a future possibility.
“If we announce a new political party immediately, we risk going the way AAP and Arvind Kejriwal have,” Bhushan said.
He was more aggressive in his attack, saying: “This is not Arvind Kejriwal’s party. Yes, he worked hard but so did thousands of others.”
A senior leader of the Kejriwal faction Ashutosh dismissed the meeting as a “façade” saying the rebels had “already decided they would break the party”.
In a series of tweets, he said the “party has taken note of” the meeting and will take a decision, possibly by Wednesday.
Earlier on Monday, senior party leader Sanjay Singh had said that the AAP’s political affairs committee and its national executive would decide the next move after the meeting.
Sources said AAP workers from different states including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab and Uttarakhand attended the meet.
Besides Yadav and Bhushan, others present in the meet included Shanti Bhushan, Anand Kumar and Ajit Jha. The only AAP MLA present at the meeting was Timarpur’s Pankaj Pushkar.
One hour into the meeting, an audio message of admiral L Ramdas, who was recently removed from the post of party’s internal Lokpal, was played out from the stage.
In the message Ramdas said that a samwad cannot be seen as an “anti party activity” and that people must be allowed to speak in a democracy.
(With inputs from agencies)