AAP’s internal Lokpal, Admiral (retd) L Ramdas, on Saturday said he will not quit the post even though he was asked not to attend the crucial National Council meeting for which he had travelled all the way from Maharashtra.
“I am neither quitting nor have I been asked to go. Winners never quit,” the former naval chief of staff told PTI.
Ramdas said he was asked by AAP national secretary Pankaj Gupta to not attend the meeting so as to “avoid confrontation”.
Gupta also said it was the “party’s internal affair” and that, “as indicated earlier, the term of Lokpal needed to be renewed in the next NE (National Executive meet)”, Ramdas added.
He said Gupta also wrote that only MLAs and MPs have been invited to the meeting apart from authorised NC members and “no one else has been invited”.
“So (we), request you to not come to the meeting to avoid any confrontation,” he wrote.
Hours before the NC meeting today, Yogendra Yadav made public a letter written by Ramdas to the party leadership in which he expressed surprise over the party asking him not to attend the meet to “avoid confrontation”. Gupta’s messages were appended to that letter.
The direction to Ramdas came days after a section of AAP leaders expressed their displeasure over his continuance as the party’s ombudsman following his letter last month criticising the leadership.
In a letter to the party’s Political Affairs Committee, 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 an ‘one man, one post’ arrangement.
Miffed over the snub, 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.
“I am quite aware that the NC is the party’s 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 at the reference that term of the internal Lokpal needed to be renewed, Ramdas said that the party had “in effect” already extended his initial term as Lokpal when it had asked him 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 12 of the selected candidates.
“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,” he said.
The 2004 Magsaysay awardee said he was “surprised” to know that there was apprehension that his presence could possibly cause a confrontation at the meeting today.
“One wonders why, with whom and about what. I agreed to join AAP â€“- that too as its Lokpal â€“- 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 its stunning victory in the Delhi Assembly polls, Ramdas 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 sting (operations) — and spreading conspiracy theories which should put us all to shame.”
Referring to the message asking Ramdas to stay away from the NC meet, Yadav earlier today said it was very disappointing to see that a party which has fought all these years to have a Lokpal was 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 that 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 the meet,” Yadav had said.