Simmering discontent in Aam Aadmi Party came to the fore on Tuesday when a party member called a press conference here to demand more organisational democracy but was shouted down by autorickshaw drivers supporting AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal.
“Anguished” over getting no reply to his open letter to Kejriwal about democracy in the party, Rakesh Agarwal, an AAP member and also secretary of an NGO working for autorickshaw drivers in Delhi, had called the press meet to put forward his three-point charter of demands.
But as soon as Agarwal began his conference, around 15-20 autorickshaw drivers, alleging harassment by him and bungling of funds in his NGO, barged in and demanded that he answer their questions.
Agarwal said they were “uninvited” and asked them to leave the venue.
Rakesh Aggarwal addresses press conference at Press club, in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, November 12, 2013. (Photo by Hindustan Times)
Amid the drama, Agarwal told reporters that it was an attempt by AAP leaders to gag any voice of dissent. Arvind Kejriwal a dictator, hurting party, says AAP leader
“These people have been sent to ruin my press conference by some of the AAP leaders who don't want to hear any dissenting views or about democracy in the party.” He alleged that AAP does not have any governing agenda and “if the party comes to power, and if they fail to deliver then people will lose faith on such movements for years.” There was a lack of democracy in the party as those holding posts have not been elected but nominated, he added.
“I demand that elections should be held and democracy in the party should be restored,” he said, adding there was no need for any cells for Sikhs in the party as it would promote vote bank politics.
Arvind Kejriwal supporters protest against Rakesh Aggarwal press conference at Press club, in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, November 12, 2013. (Photo by Hindustan Times)
Agarwal’s charter includes immediate setting up of a team to define the governance agenda, democratise and decentralise party structure by holding internal elections and withdrawal from vote bank politics and abolishing all religion and caste based cells. AAP does not have road map to keep its promises: Rakesh Agarwal
Agarwal said he had written an open letter to Kejriwal on the issue but had not received any reply from him, and if “I don't get any reply by November 21, I will go on indefinite fast.”
However, he supported Kejriwal and the party on the issue of foreign funding, saying the party has received money from NRIs and it is not illegal.