When the whole Delhi was with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), some “friends backstabbed” us, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal told yesterday’s National Council meeting which removed dissident leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav from the National Executive for “anti-party activities”.
As per an edited video of his speech released by AAP today, Kejriwal launched an all-out attack on Bhushan and Yadav and accused them of trying to realise their personal ambitions under the garb of raising issues of “principles”, and in the process weaken the party.
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 (a breakway group) 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.
Targeting Yadav, Kejriwal said stories were being planted to tarnish his image.
“Stories were planted. Senior editors of two big news channels have told me that Yogendra Yadav was planting stories against me,” he said.
Lashing out at Shanti Bhushan for giving interviews critical of Kejriwal just before the Delhi polls, Kejriwal said many donors were discouraged from donating and volunteers stopped from campaigning.
“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?” he asked.
He said the negotiations over the past few days from the side of Bhushan and Yadav were nothing but a sham under the veil of principles.
“There were attempts to weaken me and 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 quit… It was all a sham. They were showing the world that it was a fight of principles,” Kejriwal added.
Kejriwal said the mudslinging that continued for over a month benefitted neither any of the groups nor the party. It was only the opposition which got benefitted, he said.
“In the last one-and-a-half months, whatever has happened, who benefitted the most? Did Kejriwal become strong? Did the Aam Aadmi Party grow stronger? Did Prashant Bhushan grow stronger? Did Yogendra Yadav grow stronger? Did internal democracy and Swaraj come into the party? We all got maligned.
“Other parties felt with whatever happened since last one and half months…then if this is Swaraj or internal democracy then God save this Swaraj? Who benefitted from this? Modi, BJP, Congress and Ambani benefitted from this,” he said.
Responding to the charges of Bhushan and Yadav, who had earlier accused him of looking at winability of candidates rather than their record and character, Kejriwal said he was not greedy for any post and had even resigned as the chief minister. He also regretted that his “own people” doubted his integrity.
“Why will I compromise. 100 people can say that I am stubborn (ziddi), but neither the BJP nor the Congress can say I am dishonest. My won people doubted my honesty… I compromised. We did not give tickets to so many people.
“I did not give ticket to my uncle’s son, not my relatives or friends nor did I accept money in exchange of tickets. Every candidate’s record was cross-checked. We were told that winability of candidates is important. Yes, we have come here to win not to lose,” he said.
Kejriwal had also asked the National Council to choose between “him and them” as he tendered resignation from the post of National Convenor, his membership from the PAC, National Executive and National Council. He said he was not in the party to fight with Yadav or Bhushan.
“We have given birth to this party. Have given blood and sweat to the party and even put life on stake. I am a diabetic. For 15 days I sat in fast (in April 2013). No doctor was ready to say that I would survive for next 48 hours. My mom and wife cried a lot. My ketone level had gone to 4 and 5, which is much higher than the normal level. I have come back from the jaws of death. 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 Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav. 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,” Kejriwal said.
Kejriwal said the party had done a thorough scanning of the 12 candidates following objections from Bhushan and Yadav, and even referred the names to Lokpal L Ramdas.
“Who would have asked had we not won 28 seats (in 2013 polls). With Rs 3 lakh we defeated Sheila Dikshit. I won with people’s support and not through dishonest means. We did a thorough inquiry of all 12 candidates. Then we asked the Lokpal. The Lokpal cleared 12 candidates. Despite this, the complaint was given to the media and media maligned them,” Kejriwal said, strongly backing all the 12 MLAs.
“Some people say victory or defeat is not important, but I don’t believe in that politics. There are 1,350 parties in the country, but does anyone know about those 1,350 parties?
“Today people know about the Aam Aadmi Party because we have won. We are here to win. We will win, but not through dishonest means.
Those who want to do politics of defeat, they should do politics of defeat, those who want to pursue politics of victory, they should come with us,” Kejriwal said.
Accusing Bhushan of trying to portray that Kejriwal was not ready for rapprochement, the Delhi Chief Minister said every communication between the two went before the media.
“When I was returning from Bangalore, I got an SMS… I too wanted to meet him, but I was worried because whatever I say, he would go out and tell this before the media. No sooner did I say this to Prithvi (Reddy), the TV at the airport showed Prashantji talking to the media.
“Your (Bhushan’s) purpose was not to meet, but to tell this to the world that look I want to meet, but Arvind does not? Did internal democracy strengthen due to this or bring Swaraj? This led to weakening of Kejriwal. A message was sent to the world that look Kejriwal does not want to meet its own leaders,” Kejriwal said.
Kejriwal also accused Yadav of “bargaining” for Haryana under the pretext of holding talks. “Why did he not implement RTI and voting in Haryana unit. First implement it in Haryana?” he asked.
“This was only bargaining. He said give us Haryana, we agreed. Then they asked us to give Naveen (Jaihind) mukt Haryana. We agreed, but then they took a u-turn,” he said.
On Yadav and Bhushan’s demand, Kejriwal said some of the demands were not possible to meet.
“No party makes the active list of volunteers public, of its booth level workers. Other parties will threaten them if the list comes out. If there is one thing which is a secret, then that is the our list of booth agents and volunteers.
“Then they say every decision of the party should be taken by volunteers through secret voting? Is this possible? Is this possible?” Kejriwal asked.
Taking a jibe at the duo for their demand of giving more autonomy to the states, Kejriwal said it should have first been done in the Delhi unit.
“Their demand was to give autonomy to states… Did you give autonomy to Delhi. During Delhi polls, you said, whatever we say you have to do,” he said.
He said had the sting, in which Kejriwal is purportedly heard talking about poaching six Congress MLAs for government formation, been referred to the Lokpal as had been demanded by the dissident duo it would have only strengthen the hands of the opposition.
He also recalled an incident when the security guards of his building taunted him after the Lok Sabha poll debacle.
“I have bore the burnt of this (defeat). The building in which I reside in Kaushambi.
“When I was getting out, some security guards taunted me ‘Bada Hiro Banna Chahta tha. Pradhan Mandri Banne chala tha Laut ke buddhu ghar ko aaye (Wanted to become a super hero. Wanted to become Prime Minister, but got nothing)’. Have gone through a lot. From that point to winning 67 seats. It was a big thing,” Kejriwal said.
The face-off in AAP climaxed yesterday with the expulsion of Bhushan and Yadav from its National Executive, in a possible precursor for their final ouster from the party.
Amid chaos and high drama, a resolution to remove the two from the powerful panel was passed immediately after Kejriwal left the meeting following his hour-long speech in which he asked over 300 members present to choose him or the duo. The resolution was introduced by Kejriwal loyalist Manish Sisodia.
The resolution for expulsion of Yadav and Bhushan, along with their supporters Anand Kumar and Ajit Jha, was passed by 247 members, AAP National Secretary Pankaj Gupta said, adding while 10 members opposed it, 54 others did not take part in the voting. Immediately after their removal, Bhushan and Yadav termed the NC meet as “unconstitutional and illegal”.