True to his word, Aam Aadmi Party’s Patiala MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi on Tuesday stayed away from the rebel congregation of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan but sent his message to them.
In the letter read out at the event’s Gurgaon venue, the member of Parliament has stressed the need for remaining true to the party’s founding ideals. “We need to debate the ideological and organisational issues dispassionately to avoid drifting,” wrote Dr Gandhi, adding that if the party aimed at being political alternative, it would have to prove that it was different.
This is the second time he has skipped meeting Yadav and Bhushan, with whom he addressed a press conference in New Delhi on March 29 when the latter were ousted from the AAP’s national executive body. He didn’t go to the April 7 “Swaraj Samwad” meeting that the two had held for dialogue in the party.
Sources in the AAP say that though earlier the MP was with the rebel group openly, he now has become cautious after senior leaders have convinced him that Yadav and Bhushan have not much influence or stake in Punjab, and the MP had a bigger responsibility of representing Patiala in Parliament and justifying the unprecedented mandate secured in 2014.
Dr Gandhi, when contacted, brushed aside conjectures that he had a sudden change of heart. He said he would still weigh his options and decide which side to support depending upon their stand on the party principles.
“I am neither with the AAP national convener (Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal) nor with Yadav and Bhushan. I stand by the principles and the ideology on which the AAP was founded in 2013. I would continue to be a watchdog in the party and ensure it doesn’t drift away from its original agenda,” said the MP.
He did say that he had been pained by how a section of the party had burnt his effigies, branded him traitor, and made him target of a smear campaign all because he had stood by the AAP’s principles. “My voice of dissent within the party should not be misunderstood as rebellion,” he said.
AAP’s Punjab convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur welcomed Dr Gandhi’s decision of not attending the rebel convention. “It is a positive sign for the party in Punjab,” said Chhotepur, adding that “the people of Punjab have high hopes from AAP and we can’t let them down by squabbling over trivial issues”.