AAP a one-man party, not a people’s party, says Mumbai-based ex-AAP leader in his book
Is the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) a public movement that went awry and lost sight of its goal owing to its captain Arvind Kejriwal? Former AAP leader and one of the party’s founding members Mayank Gandhi certainly thinks so. In his new book ‘AAP & Down’, the social activist claims to have “exposed” the intricacies and political cross currents that he feels ultimately turned what had started as a “people’s movement” into a “cloak and dagger” political party, with its own share of intrigue and “closed door” politics. This book will be launched on February 18.
The book blames Kejriwal and his coterie for all that the author thinks went wrong within the AAP. “Anyone who questioned Kejriwal was shown the door and it has now become a one-man party instead of a people’s party,” alleges Mumbai-based Gandhi in his book.
He cites the example of himself, Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan who were shown the door. Calling his book the account of the “second Independence” struggle, he outlines the details starting from the Anna Hazare-led Indian Against Corruption (IAC), where the foundation of AAP was first laid. He said the 2013 Delhi assembly elections were fought on basis of principle and transparency.
However, things changed after the 2014 parliamentary elections when Narendra Modi swept the polls. “There was a change in the thinking and AAP adopted the same tactics other political parties did in the 2015 Delhi assembly polls like taking defectors in its fold and considering winning the only aim. This is where the slide started,” he said. “Arvind Kejriwal thought that this will also work in other states but then it backfired in places like Goa and Punjab.”
He said the problem was that the Five Founding principles of AAP — participation, accountability, transparency, decentralization of power and integrity — were compromised in the bargain. “Why are the coterie members not taking onus of the defeats and resigning? Why are there no booth-level elections being held to encourage decentralisation? Why are no accounts being disclosed on the websites?” asked Gandhi.
The ex-AAP leader also said he was expelled after he wrote a blog post in March 2015 about the proceedings of the national executive. “I was a representative of lakhs of volunteers and they needed to know what was going on. However, Kejriwal and others took offence and I was sacked,” he said.
According to Gandhi, in the first AAP national executive meeting, Kejriwal had said, “This party is not the property of 300 founding members but of the lakhs and crores of people in this country.” However, over the period of time, he told Gandhi that “I do not want intellectuals in the party, just people who say ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and unquestioningly follow me”.
But Gandhi does credit AAP also for shaking the conscience of the people. “Politicians were getting grilled, questioned and good people started entering this field, all thanks to AAP,” said Gandhi while adding that the Delhi government performed well in social infrastructure like schools and health sector.
However AAP has criticised Gandhi saying he has no moral grounds to talk of AAP. “Mayank Gandhi was removed as he concealed information on being named in an FIR (first information report) which was against the AAP’s Constitution. The problem with such people who are removed from AAP is they need to attack AAP and Kejriwal to remain in news since they have no other identity,” said Priti Sharma Menon, national executive member, AAP. “AAP was only becoming stronger by the day. Today we are ruling in Delhi, we are the main opposition party in Punjab and also have members in the Rajya Sabha. Kejriwal’s work is appreciated all across despite hurdles and we have not deviated from our core agenda.”