Dissident Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Prashant Bhushan was today removed from the party’s disciplinary committee which was reconstituted and internal Lokpal Admiral (retd) L Ramdas shunted out, a day after Bhushan and senior leader Yogendra Yadav were expelled from the National Executive (NE) for “backstabbing” and “hatching conspiraces”.
At an “emergency” NE meeting here, the party removed Ramdas, a former navy chief, as internal Lokpal and set up a new Lokpal panel, comprising former IPS officers N Dilip Kumar and Rakesh Sinha besides educationist S P Verma.
“All these people have given their consent to be part of the party’s Lokpal panel,” party’s national secretary Pankaj Gupta said.
The AAP National Executive, while sacking Bhushan from the disciplinary committee, decided to replace him with a three -member panel headed by Dinesh Waghela. The other members are Arvind Kejriwal loyalist Ashish Khetan and Gupta.
The removal of Ramdas came a day after he was sent an SMS by Gupta, asking him not to attend the National Council meeting to avoid “confrontation”.
Miffed over the snub, he then wrote a letter to the Political Affairs Committee criticising the leadership. Kejriwal has been upset over missives sent by Ramdas and this led to he being asked not to attend the National Council meet.
Ramdas said he had come from his village in Maharashtra to attend the meet. However, he said he would not attend the meet to “honour” the party’s request.
Removal of Bhushan and Yadav from key panels is being seen as a precursor to their expulsion from the party.
The two leaders yesterday termed the decision to remove them from the party’s national executive a “farce and illegal”, saying they might seek legal recourse. They also hinted at floating another party if required, claiming the support of a big section of AAP workers.
The nearly month-long war between Kejriwal and the two leaders ended with a showdown on Saturday with the two founder-members being ousted in a 247-8 vote at the 311-member NC meet that was marred by chaos, charges and counter charges.
AAP today made public Kejriwal’s speech at the National Council yesterday with the video being posted on YouTube and tweeted on AAP’s official twitter handle.
In an emotional speech, Kejriwal said, “When the whole Delhi stood behind us, some friends of ours cheated us. I am saying this with a heavy heart that when the whole of Delhi was with us, some friends backstabbed us.
“Conspiracies were hatched to ensure our defeat in the Delhi polls. AVAM was formed and it was supported. It then came in the media that AVAM members were former BJP members and BJP was funding them.
“Prashant ji told many people that we think the party should lose then only can the party and Kejriwal learn a lesson. If you don’t do this then we will go before the press and destroy the party,” Kejriwal said.
“Stories were planted. Senior editors of two big news channels have told me that Yogendra Yadav was planting stories against me. Many volunteers wanted to come to Delhi. They were stopped. Many donors were stopped from campaigning. The limit was when our senior leader (Shanti Bhushan) of the party said that Kiran Bedi was his first choice, Ajay Maken was the second choice and Kejriwal is the third choice. I want to know then why are you into this party?
The AAP chief said, “There were attempts to weaken me, weaken the party. When I came back from Bengaluru, I spoke to members of my team and sent them the same night to speak to Yogendra bhai. From that day to day before yesterday (Thursday), we tried our best to resolve the problem.”
“They (Yadav and Bhushan) first said they had five demands which, if met, they would quit all party posts. It was slightly shocking, normally people say either fix the party or we will quitâ€¦ It was all a sham. They were showing the world that it was a fight of principles,” Kejriwal added.
“Take this party, but do not kill it. I am not here to fight with these people. My fight is with corruption and communal forces. I am not here to fight with Prashant ji and Yogendra ji. I have conceded defeat. You people have won. I am here to put an end to this war. You have to decide today. Since last one year, every NE and PAC has seen fights and arguments. You have to decide on whom do you want to choose? Either choose me or them?” he said.
The AAP body also announced a committee that will take care of the April 22 agitation against the Land Acquisition Bill, when the party plans to gherao Parliament on the issue.
This committee comprises Ilyas Azmi, Prem Singh Pahadi, Yogesh Dahiya, Somendra Dhaka, Gurnam Singh and Kiran Vissa, which would decide on the details of the agitation programme.
The party has also formed a committee under the leadership of senior leader and PAC member Sanjay Singh to look into expansion of the organisation in other states.
“The AAP organisation in other states will write to us about its organisational status and political situation. They will communicate to us with their reports in 15 days,” Singh said.
On Ramdas, Singh said he was neither removed nor ousted. His tenure had ended and a new committee formed.
An agitated Bhushan said the whole exercise of forming new panels was a “farce”. He said people who has levelled allegations against him and Yadav have been put in these committees. “So how can one expect them to be fair?” he said.
AAP has been embroiled in internal strife soon after it romped home with a thumping majority in the Delhi Assembly polls, winning 67 of the 70 seats.