Hours after the expulsion of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan from the AAP national executive, activist Medha Patkar resigned from the party while its unit in Punjab, the one state where the AAP fancies its chances next, was in a shambles with at least one of its four MPs slamming the move by supporters of party chief Arvind Kejriwal.
In Mumbai, Patkar, who joined the AAP in January 2014 and contested the Lok Sabha polls from Mumbai North-East, condemned the manner in which Bhushan and Yadav were ousted.
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She refrained from criticising Kejriwal saying there were still high expectations of him but said the fundamental principles on which the party was formed had been trampled upon amid the “tamasha” underway in Delhi.
“Whatever happened in Delhi today is unfortunate. Yadav has not only been a political scientist who has taken part in debates on television, he is someone who has actually reached out to farmers and the downtrodden. The allegations against Yadav and Bhushan are baseless,” she said.
Expressing her disappointment over the implosion in the party leadership, she said she had held discussions with Maharashtra district leaders of the AAP who told her to take a “firm stand”.
“I never accepted any post in the party, from permanent invitee to national executive… Today, I am resigning from my primary membership of the party,” she said.
Dharamvir Gandhi, AAP MP from Patiala, said: “The council meeting was conducted in an undemocratic manner. Even the bare minimum principle of intra-party democracy was not maintained. Our demand was that at least someone should have been allowed to voice the other perspective after Arvindbhai’s address. Suddenly, without any discussion, it was declared that 167 members had signed a resolution. Who are these 167 people? Who formed the resolution and asked them to sign? I did not enter the party for Prashantji or Arvindji or Yogendraji. I came to the party because of its principles. I will not leave it.”
“I do not support this (council) action which was dictatorial and unconstitutional. Even if Yadav and Bhushan had no support of a single member, they had all the right to speak and give their opinion,” Gandhi said.
Some council members from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand and Delhi MLA Pankaj Pushkar also spoke out against the procedure that was followed.
“This is not what the party was founded for. It does not matter if I stay or leave as MLA, but issues that the party stands for are more important,” Pushkar said.
Ajit Jha, who was expelled from the executive along with Bhushan, Yadav and Anand Kumar, said: “Volunteers did not know if Arvindji had been making these allegations or other leaders were doing it. But in his speech today, Arvind made it clear that it was he. We walked out because the meeting was not being conducted in a disciplined manner. The agenda was not even stated by the party chief and no discussion took place. The council was not given an opportunity to discuss the issue or to decide who will preside over the session.”
The Punjab unit was also a divided house. While Dharamvir Gandhi opposed the move by the Kejriwal camp, spokesperson H S Phoolka, state convenor Sucha Singh Chhotepur and Fatehgarh Sahib MP Harinder Singh Khalsa came out in support of Kejriwal.
Phoolka said “for people of Punjab, AAP means Kejriwal… It is a timely decision to clear anti-party elements from AAP before the 2017 polls in Punjab. AAP Punjab stands with Kejriwal like a rock and people of Punjab know none other than Kejriwal as the AAP face. People like Yadav and Bhushan have been ousted because of their own deeds.”
Alleging that Yadav and his supporters campaigned against him during the Lok Sabha polls, Fatehgarh Sahib MP Harinder Singh Khalsa said: “They encouraged people to vote for SAD or Congress. They said I am a newcomer and unfit for AAP. Although I won the polls, a section led by Yadav worked against me within the AAP. I am ecstatic over their ouster. The stage is set for AAP in Punjab 2017.”
On Facebook, Faridkot MP Sadhu Singh said: “Because of some urgent meeting in Faridkot, I could not attend the NC meeting at Delhi. However, I stand by the democratic majority under the leadership of Arvind Kejriwal. I am a committed soldier of AAP.”