The month-long face-off in Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) climaxed today with the expulsion of dissident leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav from its National Executive by the Delhi CM and party chief Arvind Kejriwal-led faction, in a possible precursor for their final ouster from the party.
Amid chaos and high drama, a resolution to remove the two dissidents from the powerful panel was passed immediately after party Chief Arvind Kejriwal left the National Council following his hour-long speech in which he asked over 300 members present to choose him or the duo.
The resolution was introduced by Arvind 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” and did not rule out taking legal recourse against their removal.
Reacting to the NC decision, AAP’s well-known leader Medha Patkar addressed a press conference in Mumbai where she announced her resignation from the party, saying Yadav and Bhushan could never work against the party.
Yadav and Bhushan said AAP’s Lokpal Admiral L Ramdas (retd), who has been attending party’s NC meets, was asked by the AAP leadership last evening not to attend the meeting as his presence could result in “confrontation”.
Accusing Kejriwal of being dictatorial and using unfair means, the duo alleged that his people got goons to the NC meeting who beat up members opposed to the resolution.
“It was a murder of democracy. Everything played out in accordance with a predetermined script and the resolution was moved and passed within minutes completely disregarding laid down procedures. It was a total farce,” said an agitated Yadav.
Bhushan said, “It is true that we can move the court, Election Commission or call another meeting of the NC. All options are open.”
During his speech, Kejriwal gave an account of party’s journey to power in Delhi. He also alleged that Yadav and Bhushan, the founder members, were trying to weaken the party.
Bhushan accused Kejriwal of coming fully prepared to “kick us out” from the party and that a number of NC members, who supported him and Yadav, were injured.
“Whatever Kejriwal was heard saying in a sting yesterday was played out in the entirety in today’s meeting. There was no distinction between members and others. There was no discussion, no secret vote, no showing of votes in the meeting,” he said.
According to an audio sting which surfaced yesterday, Kejriwal was heard purportedly using expletives against Yadav and Bhushan and even threatening to form a new party.
“There was no truth in their allegations. The decision to remove them was taken following due procedures,” AAP leader Sanjay Singh said.
Another AAP leader Ashutosh accused Yadav of “spreading lies” that NC members were beaten up in meeting.
Hours before the NC meeting, Yadav made public a letter, written by Ramdas to the party leadership, in which the former Navy Chief expressed surprise over the party asking him not to attend the meet to “avoid confrontation”.
Ahead of the meeting, Yadav sat on a dharna outside the venue for around 20 minutes alleging that some National Council members opposed to Kejriwal camp were not being allowed inside the meeting.
A large number of AAP volunteers from both camps descended at the venue of the meeting at Calista resort in Kapahsera border and engaged in sloganeering against each other.
A section of the volunteers supporting Kejriwal celebrated ouster of Bhushan and Yadav after the decision was made public.
Police had to throw an escort ring around Bhushan and Yadav as the slogan shouting supporters of Kejriwal tried to approach them after they came out of the meeting.
Heavy contingents of police and RAF had been deployed in the vicinity of the resort, where NC members were allowed inside after registering at a counter.
Members who failed to show identification, mobile number, and SMS invite were denied entry.