Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) internal Lokpal Admiral L Ramdas has shot off a letter to the party after being asked not to attend today’s crucial National Council meeting to “avoid confrontation”.
The AAP National Council meeting, which began at a resort in Kapashera here this morning, is expected to take a decision on the fate of founder-members Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan whose expulsion is being demanded by Arvind Kejriwal loyalists after talks between the warring factions failed.
Yadav made the letter public on social media ahead of the NC meet, saying that he conveyed his “apologies” and sought Ramdas’s permission in doing so.
In the letter, Ramdas mentioned the SMS he had received from AAP General Secretary Pankaj Gupta, on which several reasons were stated by the party for its decision, as it was “party internal affair” and “as indicated earlier term of Lokpal need to be renewed in the next NE (National Executive meet)”.
Gupta also wrote that only MLAs and MPs have been invited apart from authorised NC members to the meeting and “no one else has been invited”. “So (we) request you to not come to the meeting to avoid any confrontation,” he wrote.
This came days after a section of AAP leaders expressed their displeasure over his continuance as the party ombudsman for his letter last month criticising the leadership.
In a letter to PAC, AAP’s highest decision making body, ahead of the National Executive meeting on February 26, Ramdas noted that there were two camps emerging within the top leadership and had asked the party to consider ‘one man, one post’ arrangement.
Miffed over the snub, Ramdas said he had visited from his village in Maharashtra to attend the meet, however, he would not attend the meet to “honour” the party’s request. “I am quite aware that the NC is a party internal affair. I am also aware that special invitees/observers have been invited to all bodies from PAC, to NEC to NC in the past,” he said.
Taking umbrage to the reference to the need for term of Lokpal to be renewed, Ramdas said that the party had “in effect” already extended his initial term as Lokpal when it had asked to investigate the credentials of candidates from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana prior to the filing of nominations for the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.
“As recently as January 2015, in the run up to the Delhi Vidhan Sabha elections, the office had again asked me to investigate complaints received from Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav about twelve of the selected candidates.
“In my judgement, I had cancelled two candidates, passed four, and the remaining six were cleared conditionally with a warning to be issued by the General Secretary of the party.
The 2004 Ramon Magsaysay awardee said that he was “surprised” to know that there was apprehension that his presence could possibly cause confrontation.
“One wonders why, with whom and about what. I agreed to join AAP that too as its Lokpal in response to a joint invitation from National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal, and PAC and NE member and legal counsel Prashant Bhushan,” he said.
Expressing his sadness and disbelief over the turmoil in the party immediately after the party’s stunning victory in the Delhi Assembly polls, the former navy chief, said, “I hold our leadership collectively responsible for this and for our failure to be able to rise above personal egos, to resort to leakages, the cheapest form of stings and spreading conspiracy theories which should put us all to shame.”
Referring to the letter, Yadav said it was very disappointing to see a party which had fought all these years for having Lokpal is not allowing its internal Lokpal to attend the meeting.
“I also asked him if it was alright to make his letter public, Ramdas said yes as it was for all the volunteers. He insisted the letter be read out during NE. I am surprised the day has come that the party which fought for Lokpal is not allowing its internal Lokpal to attend meet,” Yadav said.