On August 15, 2014, I was invited, along with four other journalists, to meet Yogendra Yadav over breakfast at the Chandigarh home of an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) office-bearer in Punjab. I was working for The Hindu then, and the meeting was held against the backdrop of the AAP’s performance in the Lok Sabha elections, and the party’s decision not to contest the (then forthcoming) Haryana assembly polls.
In response to our queries, Yadav told us that the Haryana decision was undemocratic, as it had been opposed by the state executive committee, as well as a majority of those who voted at the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party. He said there was widespread anger among the party workers over this and other issues.
Several other party members who were present echoed Yadav. Since this was not a formal press conference, we were told not to attribute the information to Yadav in our writings, but we could use it in other ways.
Over the next few days, I spoke with other AAP workers in several districts in Punjab and Haryana for additional inputs, and wrote an article which appeared in The Hindu on August 29, 2014.
The day the article appeared, I got a call from someone who identified himself as “Bibhav” from Arvind Kejriwal’s office in Delhi. (This was Bibhav Kumar, now PS to the Delhi CM). He told me what I had written about the NEC meeting was incorrect.
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I responded that this information had been shared with me and four other journalists by Yadav, and added that there was no reason for me to doubt his version, which had been given to us in front of several AAP workers. I told him that if the party wanted to refute the facts in my article, it was welcome to do so.
He said that the AAP was not considering rebutting me report, because that would amount to washing its dirty linen in public. Before ringing off, he told me that some people were harming the party from within. At no point during our conversation did he inform me that I was being recorded.
That evening, two AAP office-bearers, one from Punjab (in whose house the meeting with Yadav had taken place) and the other from Haryana, came to my home with a laptop, on which they showed me internal emails of the party about the NEC decision on Haryana. The mails appeared to corroborate Yadav’s briefing to us.
The AAP leaders were at pains to assure me that Yadav had not lied to us journalists.