It was a hurt Savita Bhatti who withdrew from the contest for the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat. The hurt was caused by objections from Aam Aadmi Party workers to her frequent invocation of the name of her late husband Jaspal Bhatti in her speeches.
On Monday, Savita said at a press conference that the party workers told her that she should be talking about the common people, not Jaspal Bhatti.
Savita had started her campaign from the Sector 17 plaza where Jaspal Bhatti, a satirist, often organised the activities of his Nonsense Club. In her speeches, she would invariably say Jaspal Bhatti always campaigned against corruption and she wanted to take his legacy forward. There used to be other references to him as well.
“A party worker said that I should not be talking of Jaspal Bhatti. He was my husband, my motivation, he is a thought. Is it my fault that I was his companion? His vision and that of Arvind Kejriwal is very similar; both raised their voice against corruption. That is how I became attached to AAP,” she said.
She said that when Anna Hazare started his crusade against corruption, Kejriwal had called Jaspal Bhatti to join him at Jantar Mantar. “We have been raising our voice against corruption for the past 30 years,” she added.
Savita said that her vision was not in sync with what was happening in the party. “I have been telling them that the focus should be on building the cadre, not just on the election. The party unit has no organisational structure. I will continue to be a part of AAP as I have great respect for Kejriwal. I am not disillusioned by the party which is moving in the right direction. I still have to find out in which way I can support the party,” she said.
Savita said that she had withdrawn from the election for the sake of the party, which was more important than individuals. “If there is infighting in an organisation, what is the big deal? There are fights even in a family. The problem needs to be identified. I wanted to fight elections in a dignified manner. They have their own vision. If I say it was a wrong vision, who am I to say this? Everyone has their own vision. I have not run away. I am used to working in a certain way. In a new environment, you can change to an extent to fit in, but your spirit cannot be changed. My thoughts are different,” she said.
Around 200 people had applied for the AAP ticket for the Chandigarh seat. Of them, 31 were shortlisted. Several were called for interviews in Delhi, but none of them was selected.
Many of them bore a grudge against Savita for the manner in which the AAP leadership picked her. They did not turn up when she started her campaign. A section of party workers refused to be part of the party activities if she remained the candidate. Complaints against her were sent to the senior leaders in Delhi. The meetings Savita had at the party office were stormy, with the volunteers not reaching a consensus on issues.
Now, with Savita’s withdrawal from the contest, most of the AAP aspirants are again hopeful of being asked by the party to contest. Party in-charge for Chandigarh Rajiv Godara said a decision was likely in a day or so.