Yogendra Yadav asks: Arvind Kejriwal No. 1 but who will keep him in check

Written by Express news service | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 7 2014, 16:42pm hrs
As the fissures in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) appeared to deepen, a letter written by senior party leader Yogendra Yadav to its Political Affairs Committee, giving reasons for his resignation, has caused a storm in the party.

In his letter, Yadav questioned the unbridled powers of party national convener Arvind Kejriwal and asked whether there are limits to personal discretion of the leader.

The contents of Yadavs letter emerged even as the AAPs National Executive met on Friday to discuss the problems the party was facing. Although he admitted there were organisational problems, senior AAP leader Prashant Bhushan said, In any new party, there are bound to be organisational problems and other problems. The National Executive met today to discuss all these issues.

In his letter, Yadav pointed to the widespread perception that the AAP, like other parties, was afflicted with personality cult. There is no one who doubts that Arvind bhai is the undisputed leader within the party. He has richly earned this stature and we would not be where we are without his leadership. But there is a difference between a leader and a supremo.

Love and affection for a leader often turns into a personality cult that can damage an organisation and the leader himself. This is what appears to be happening to our party, he wrote.

Major decisions of the party appear to, and indeed do, reflect the wishes of one person; when he changes his mind, the party changes its course of action; proximity to the leader comes to substitute for organisational roles and responsibilities. Since all the decisions and successes are credited to one person, all the blame also begins to accumulate at the doors of one person, Yadav wrote.

Let me reiterate that Arvind bhai is no ordinary leader and there are no two opinions about his continuing as the national convener; nor have I ever doubted his status as first among equals within the partys leadership. The real question is whether there are limits to personal discretion of the leader, he wrote.

It was in response to this letter that senior party leader Manish Sisodia write to Yadav, questioning his behaviour over the past fortnight. On Friday, both leaders declined to comment on the exchange of the e-mails between them.

Eleborating on the decision to quit the PAC, Yadav wrote, The heart of the matter is the decision-making process within our party. Our party stands for swaraj, for bottom-up, participatory decision making. We do so because we believe that remote decision making by a few powerful people is bad, even if the decision-makers are well-intentioned. We seem to have forgotten that basic idea when it comes to decision making within our own party.

Yadav wrote that the course of events after the election verdict took me aback. It seemed that instead of introspection and course correction, we had started moving in the opposite direction. We got distracted from the real challenge and appeared to be diverting public attention. To my mind, we had not lost the election, but we did start losing something more valuable, our sense of direction and rectitude, after the elections... My resignation was above all an attempt to invite my colleagues in the national leadership of the party to face the election outcome and begin collective introspection, he wrote.

Pointing to the trigger for his resignation, Yadav wrote, Worse, there were attempts to divert all the blame to Political Affairs Committee and National Executive. Demands were raised for dissolving the PAC and the NE; its members were presented as power brokers who were unwilling to give up their positions. These expressions were not confined to a few volunteers. It was seriously suggested within a PAC meeting that all the members of PAC and NE should hand over their resignations to the national convener, giving him or a search committee presided by him a free hand to reconstitute these bodies. All this reminded me of what happens in parties like the Congress and the BSP.

I waited for Arvind bhai to come out from jail and put an end to this chorus. Instead, in his first meeting with volunteers, Arvind bhai himself endorsed the anti-PAC sentiment, which amounted to an open expression of no confidence in his colleagues. This is when I decided to resign from the PAC, and also offered to step down from my responsibilities as spokesperson and in-charge of Haryana, Yadav wrote.

Senior AAP leaders played down the exchange of e-mails between Yadav and Sisodia, saying the issues raised relate to re-organising the party. The issues mentioned in the letters are being discussed. Manbhed zaroor hai, matbhed nahi, said PAC member Anand Kumar.

Other AAP leaders also dismissed reports of rift in the top leadership. If two people, with differing views, have written letters to each other, it does not mean that the party is under threat. The fact that they have met today and the issues are being discussed shows there is internal democracy in the party, said senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh.

The National Executive is expected to meet on Saturday and Sunday to decide on the resignations offered by Yadav and Haryana leader Naveen Jaihind. These resignations will be discussed in tomorrows meeting. It is likely that the party will not accept them, Singh said.