Crisis deepened in AAP with senior leader Prashant Bhushan accusing the party of running a “one person-centric” campaign revolving around Arvind Kejriwal during the Delhi elections contrary to its principles.
Bhushan said the ‘one person-centric’ campaign was making the party look like other conventional parties and called for more “swaraj” within the organisation.
“…one person-centric campaign, which was run during Delhi elections, is making our party look more and more like other conventional parties that are also one- person centric. The only difference being that we still claim that we are wedded to the principles of ‘swaraj’ while they don’t.
“Running one person-centric campaign may be effective, but does that justify sacrificing our principles? We will need to make a conscious course correction if we have to get away from a supremo controlled party,” Bhushan said in a letter to members of AAP National Executive, which met last Thursday.
Serious differences appeared to have cropped up within AAP, including over Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s role in the party, with internal Lokpal Admiral Ramdas pointing to two camps emerging within top leadership and asking the party to consider ‘one-man, one-post’ arrangement.
Bhushan also accused Kejriwal of not giving more autonomy to the states to take their decision on contesting elections.
Bhushan and another AAP leader Yogendra Yadav wanted the party to contest the Haryana state elections, but another section led by Kejriwal was against it.
“Swaraj means decentralised decision making. On those principles it is the state unit who have to decide whether we should contest elections in the state. But we are deciding for them and ordering them not to contest elections.
“Even the National Executive had decided when to allow the states and when to contest elections but that decision was frustrated by Kejriwal by not allowing the states to contest elections. We made mockery of the principles of democracy and swaraj,” Bhushan said.
Bhushan also sought transparency in the way funds are spent which, he claimed, is currently being done in an “arbitrary” manner. “The party now receives considerable donations. There is, however, no systematic planning on how these funds are to be spend. We do not have any empowered committee or decision making system of deciding on how the funds are to be spent,” he said.
“With the result that such decisions are being made in an arbitrary manner by a few people who are not authorised by the National Executive to take such decisions. There are some volunteers who are paid by the party, but a vast majority of them are not… Even these decisions need to be taken in a systematic and democratic manner,” Bhushan said. Bhushan also slammed the party over its “lack of transparency”. He said while the party criticises BJP and Congress, it has not put up its expenditure on website.
“Our party was founded on the principle of transparency and accountability which is embedded in the vision document of the party. We had claimed that parties should come under RTI Act and berated BJP and Congress for flouting the information Commission directive to them to come under RTI.
“We said, we will put all our accounts on public website. But what is the reality today. Far from bringing the party under RTI, we don’t even have our accounts on the website. We have put our donations but not expenses. We don’t even put decision of our constitutional bodies like National Executive, or the PAC on the website, what to say of the minutes,” he said.
“In fact, as far as I am aware, even decision of PAC or NE meetings are not maintained what to say of making them transparent,” the letter said.
In a joint letter to National Executive members, Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav is believed to have highlighted contentious issues like expanding the PAC.
Referring to the controversy where AAP MLA from Uttam Nagar Naresh Balyan was booked after illegal liqour was allegedly seized from his residence, the two leaders demanded thorough investigation by the party into this case.
They also demanded “activation” of the discipline and grievance committee.