Dissident AAP leader Yogendra Yadav today hit back at the top leadership, accusing it of indulging in “gross violation” of the party constitution and claiming that nobody was consulted when Arvind Kejriwal resigned as the Delhi Chief Minister. His letter comes hour after Prashant Bhshan‘s reply.
Dear Shri Waghela,
I received your “Show Cause Notice” around midnight on the 17th. Frankly, I have been in a dilemma on whether to respond to this communication. On the one hand it appears part of a pre-scripted drama where the outcome is already decided and well-known. Participating in this drama could only legitimize it, I am told. On the other hand, a non-response could be seen as an admission of guilt and could give credence to some of these ridiculous charges. Besides, one should never foreclose the possibility that someone somewhere – perhaps even a member of your “committee” — may indeed be interested in discovering the truth. At least that is what Premchand’s immortal tale “Panch Parmeshwar” taught me. Hence this response.
2. I should begin by placing on record why I do not consider this communication from you to be a formal Show Cause Notice issued by a duly constituted National Disciplinary Committee and why I would not expect a fair trial.
a) As per media reports, the new “National Disciplinary Committee” was constituted in the meeting of the truncated National Executive on the 29th of March. All of these purported decisions taken since the illegal and unconstitutional meeting of the National Council on the 28th of March where 4 of us were purportedly removed from the NE are illegal since the constitution of the NE itself has been illegal.
b) As per a letter written by Dr. Rakesh Sinha, the meeting of the NE held on 29th was also illegal, for some of the members, including him, were not even informed about the meeting. Indeed he had written information to the contrary. That renders all the decisions in that meeting illegal.
c) What raises more suspicions about this new “National Disciplinary Committee” is the removal, not only of Shri Prashant Bhushan but also of Shri K K Sevada, party’s treasurer and someone known to be a person of outstanding integrity, someone who did not take any sides in the ongoing dispute. Shri Ashish Khetan, who led the campaign against Shri Prashant Bhushan and me in vicious and undignified ways, replaced him. All this smacks of “packing” the committee to ensure a desired outcome.
d) The alacrity with which the notice has been issued also invites questions. You mentioned to me in a formal telephonic conversation on the 16th evening that no such complaint had been forwarded to you yet and that you have heard about Show Cause etc. only from the media. I take it that you received the complaint and after “perusing the details and the evidence put forth by the complainant” issued the Notice. All this happened within a few hours and that too via teleconferences. I am all for swift justice, but someone might wonder why your “Committee” had no time first of all for all the pending cases before the National Disciplinary Committee and why this one was prioritized.
e) The manner in which this “Show Cause Notice” has been issued only confirms everyone’s worst suspicions. The timing of the communication and its contents were known to the media before it reached me. (I received an email at 10:22 pm with an accurate summary of charges against me, while your email was sent at 11:45 pm and the hard copy reached after mid-night). That raises questions about the independence and intent of the exercise.
f) Worst of all, the group that has decided that the complaint has prima facie merit and has sent this “Notice” includes two persons who have no business to do so, going by elementary principles of natural justice. Shri Pankaj Gupta was one of the signatories to the public statement issued on March 10 that makes a series of allegations against Shri Prashant Bhushan and me, including many charges that your “Committee” now proposed to examine! Shri Ashish Khetan has, in several interviews and social media posts over the last months, made a series of accusations against the two of us, including some very personal attacks on Prashant ji and his family. He claims to be a witness to Prashant ji’s “anti-party activities”. Of late, Shri Khetan has made no secret of his personal hostility to Prashant ji, following his expose of internal communication in Essar that raised questions about Shri Khetan’s possible involvement in a paid news. Is it not a scandal that those who are complainants, witness or interested party should sit in judgment over a case?
3. The complaint that you have forwarded contains many factual misrepresentations and innuendos. But at the heart of it lies a misunderstanding of what constitutes “discipline” and “anti-party activity”. The complainant assumes that discipline is all about obedience or conformity to orders from above. He also assumes that the Party is co-terminus with its leadership, which is the same thing as the supreme Leader. Naturally, the complainant believes that like all other parties, anything that the Leader does not like or approve constitutes indiscipline and anti-party activity. What he forgets is that AAP was born precisely to counter this kind of undemocratic politics. In a democratic organisation like ours discipline is no doubt about self-restraint, but precisely in order to align ones actions with a higher purpose, namely, swaraj. Following the commands of the party’s duly constituted leadership is discipline, only in so far as the leadership is in conformity with the principles of the party. In fact, when the leadership of the party indulges in gross violation of the letter and spirit of the Constitution of the Party, conformity to its diktats is an anti-party activity. Rescuing the organization from this state of affairs is not indiscipline, it is the duty of every volunteer.
4. Unfortunately, that is the situation is which we find ourselves today. The party’s Leader and the coterie around him have repeatedly violated the letter and the spirit of the Party’s Constitution. They have also systematically removed any person, forum or institution within the Party where these acts could be questioned and redressed. Therefore I cannot but laugh at references to swaraj and democratic procedures in the complaint that you have forwarded. Let me simply recount some of these gross violations that have led to a complete breakdown of constitutional order within the Party.
a) The National Executive, which is required to meet every quarter, did not meet between July 2014 and February 2015. The National Council did not meet for more than a year. The PAC did not meet for several months. All the decisions were taken by the National Convenor with a small coterie that has no basis in the Party Constitution. Naturally, no agendas or minutes of these extra-constitutional meetings were circulated.
b) Major political decisions were taken bypassing the relevant decision making bodies. No Committee was even consulted in major decisions like resignation of Delhi government in February 2014, diversion of resources to Varanasi and Amethi constituencies and the allocation of funds to candidates during the Lok Sabha elections.
c) Whenever inconvenient, the decisions of the constitutional bodies were manipulated, defied or not implemented. The vote of the National Executive on the formation of government in Delhi in May 2014 was rigged. A 20-15 vote against government formation with Congress was converted into 14-17 vote in its favour by allowing votes after the deadline, pressurizing members to change their vote after they cast it and by invalidating some others. The majority NE decision (15 for, 4 against) to allow state units to decide about state assembly elections was not implemented till it was reversed in the next meeting. The PAC decision on the CM staging a dharna was unilaterally overturned by the CM himself. The selection of candidates in Delhi election this year was done without adequately involving or even informing the PAC.
d) In this situation, the National Council was the forum for protecting the Party Constitution. The conduct of the National Council meeting on 28th March was a complete mockery of any due process. The list of the NC members was kept secret and was manipulated right till the last day; names of legitimate members were deleted and dubious names inserted; Delhi MLAs were invited while the Lokpal was denied entry; resolution to remove four members of NE was signed even before the meeting could begin; the National Convener provoked the MLAs who shouted slogans and intimidated members of NC; the Chair of the meeting was installed without due process; the resolution to remove four members was moved without due process; no discussion was allowed on the resolution; the proposer of the resolution was himself acting as the chair and supervising voting; plea for secret voting was turned down and, in the most shameful episode, bouncers acting as volunteers were used to intimidate and beat up NC members who protested. The highest decision making forum was reduced to a farce. Mobs were set after those like Dr Dharmaveer Gandhi, the leader of our parliamentary party, who dared to opposed this fraud.
e) One of the institutions available for redressing this fraud was the National Disciplinary Committee which was illegally reconstituted (as mentioned in 2(a), 2(b) and 2(c) above) so as to pack it.
f) The last hope of justice, the Lokpal, was also removed in a way that was unconstitutional, illogical and most shameful. The letters written by Admiral Ramdas and Ilina Sen, the two serving Lokpals, about when did their tenure came to an end and why they were not accorded their constitutional right to choose their successor, remain unanswered.
This is what has led to an undeclared Emergency in the Party where the Constitution has been set aside to make for one-person rule. In this context the functioning of your “National Disciplinary Committee” appears a bit comical. If you were at all serious about maintaining discipline in the party, would you like to take action against those responsible for this state of affairs?
5. It is in this context of a complete breakdown of Constitutional functioning within the Party and the closure of all doors for possible redress that I with some colleagues turned to the volunteers as the last resort. This party owes its existence and strength to the thousands of volunteers who sacrificed everything to work selflessly for a better India. So they were naturally the last court of appeal to save the soul of the movement and the spirit of its Constitution. That is what Swaraj Samwad held at Gurgaon on 14th April was all about. It was a dialogue on the present state and future direction of alternative politics. Since the complaint that you have forwarded thinks of the dialogue as an act of indiscipline, let me state the following:
a) Swaraj Samwad was not and was not presented as an official meet organized by the Party. It is therefore pointless to call it “unauthorized”. It was a gathering of volunteers, supporters and well-wishers of alternative politics.
b) Given that it was an independent initiative, donations were collected from the participants for the event. Donations and expenditure were announced from the stage and subsequently reported on the net. Not a paisa of Party resources was used for this purpose. It is strange to see a party functionary waiting for this donation to be deposited with the party.
c) In holding an open-ended dialogue, the Party volunteers were exercising their right to freedom of expression under Article VI of the Party’s Constitution.
d) The Samwad discussed many questions and, based on the feedback received from pre-registration and group discussion, offered several options. One option that emerged from many participants was that of leaving the Party and forming a new Party. This was put to vote and in my address I argued against this option. The proceedings of the dialogue are in the public domain.
e) In case you think that even asking this question was an act of indiscipline, your “Committee” may be required to take on something bigger. As is well known, television channels have reported a telephone conversation of our National Convener where he is declaring his intent to form a new party with his 67 MLAs in case he cannot get rid of people like me. If our discussing a possibility is indiscipline, surely his declaration is a bigger indiscipline, which your “committee” might wish to look into.
f) If you think that hosting an event like this is anti-party activity, you might also have to open dozens of cases from Bihar and Haryana where parallel events were organized under the Party’s banner against express directions of the Party office bearers. Many of these cases were reported to the National Disciplinary Committee and, as the response from Shri Prashant Bhushan details, the Party’s Secretary ensured that no action was taken against these. Your “committee” may consider action against all these cases and the Secretary himself.
6. The complaint forwarded by you repeatedly talks of my making “baseless allegations” about the proceedings of the National Council on the 28th of March. It actually accuses me of creating ruckus in the meeting! I must ask you how one should respond to such innuendos.
a) I stand by all that I have said here at 4(d) and in the media. I believe you and your two colleagues were also witness to that sordid drama. Please put your hand to heart at least once and ask yourself if anything that I said was not true.
b) If you or anyone has any doubts about what happened inside the NC meeting, why don’t you order a public release of the unedited video-tapes from both the cameras? Why don’t you ask the secretariat to identify each “volunteer” visible in the video that was present inside the hall? Why don’t you make public the list of 247 “members” who are supposed to have voted for our removal? Why don’t you ask the Chair about not allowing discussion on the resolution? Why don’t you inquire into the refusal of secret vote? Why don’t you initiate action against all those who are found to be creating ruckus in the meeting?
c) I do maintain that what is happening inside our Party today has direct parallel with the Stalinist purges inside the Communist Party of the USSR in the 1930s. The kangaroo trials, expulsions, witch-hunts, character assassination, rumour campaigns and emotional theatre to justify such macabre acts – all this is so true of the Stalinist regime. I have always maintained that there is one difference – there is no Siberia for exile here!
d) As for my “dharna”, I met about a dozen members of NC at the venue who were being denied entry. There was no one senior at the gate who could give any reason for denial of entry. That is why I sat down with some of them. This facilitated entry for many others who were being held back.
e) It is true that the news about what happened inside the NC has damaged the party’s reputation. The real question is: who is responsible for it? Those who did it? Or the messengers?
7. The complaint recycles an old allegation about an article published in The Hindu on 29th August 2014. I have already refuted it and it has been fully trashed in public discussions. Here are the key points:
a) The allegations of the said journalist have been contested by all the remaining journalists in that meeting. While the complainant has cited her clandestine recording and written defense he has concealed from you the article she was responding to. In this article S. P. Singh, another journalist present in that meeting records that I did not disclose anything of that kind in that meeting. To quote him: “I was one of the journalists at that breakfast table, and in the ethical tradition of making full disclosures, must underline that while the aloo parathas were delicious, if Yadav did indeed give out the juicy tidbits mentioned in Ms Dogra’s story, that plate did not make it to the breakfast table where we were seated. Intriguingly, there was only one table.” Please read his article and his rejoinder to her response at : http://www.caravanmagazine.in/vantage/indian-express-yogendra-yadav-indian-journalism#sthash.y9xs86eC.dpuf
b) The complaint distorts my response in that matter. My response was: “Why did she report on a breakfast conversation that was clearly understood to be not for reporting? Why did she reveal her sources to an interested party? And worst of all, why did she drag me, who had never given her any such information?” The complaint has conveniently concealed the last sentence.
c) As soon as this allegation surfaced, on 7th September 2014 I had requested the then Lokpal to inquire into it; he did not think it was worthy of investigation.
d) When this came up again in the recent context Prashant ji and I demanded that the Lokpal should inquire into this, but the Party Secretary never forwarded this request to the Lokpal.
e) If there was violation of discipline in this incident it was by Shri Bibhav who took a clandestine recording of a journalist. This has been condemned by the media all over the country and has led to a loss of reputation for the party. Will your “committee” initiate action in this matter?
f) If your “committee” finds this indiscipline, what about dozens of other cases where the other leaders, including the National Convener, gave media statements out of line with the Party’s position?
8. The complaint refers to a report in Financial Express about my statement on the MLAs being forced to sign a petition against myself and Prashant Bhushan. This is true and is known to all MLAs, key party functionaries and the media. It is also a fact that the National Convener was personally supervising this signature campaign while on medical leave in Bangalore. He called up and sent messages to those MLAs who were reluctant to put their signatures on the petition. Will your “committee” carry out an investigation into this sordid episode?
9. It also makes reference to a news report in the Times of India about party’s future roadmap.
a) I had spoken only about party’s “expansion” and not about contesting elections; this was very much in line with what the Mission Vistaar was doing at that time.
b) The five states listed by the new report were wrongly reported. I had called up the reporter Neha Lalchandani on the day the report appeared and protested.
c) If my talking about the party’s “expansion” outside Delhi was an act of indiscipline, what would your “committee” say about the National Convener and CM’s declaration during the Oath Taking Ceremony that the party will be confined to Delhi? Was that declaration approved by any committee? Will you issue him a Show Cause Notice?
d) The other part is simply about my saying that there should not be any fuss about the CM needing some security; I do not understand how this is a breach of Manifesto? If so, is the CM now in breach of party’s manifesto?
10. The allegation about my colluding with Ramjan Chowdhary when he contested election as independent is factually mistaken.
a) At no stage did anyone in the leadership ask me to take action against Ramjan. In fact the National Convener said to me “jisane ladana hai use ladne deejiye, aap is chakkar me mat padiye”.
b) Still we discussed this in Haryana Executive and the Haryana Convener Dr Ashawant wrote an email to Ramjan and another colleague who contested elections to please resign before they do so.
11. Prof Anand Kumar is responding to the allegation about a possible sting being played out in the press conference. All I need to say is that no such sting was carried out or played out by myself.
12. Finally, allow me to bring out a discrepancy between a complaint filed by the same complainant to the National Secretary on 2nd March and the current complaint filed by him for your “committee”. In that complaint his focus was on the allegation that I worked for the party’s defeat in the Delhi elections and my grand conspiracy to unseat and replace the present National Convener. That complaint was never acted upon but widely publicized in the media and among the volunteers. That was used to call me and Prashant ji “gaddar”. But now that it has come to a stage of investigation, why has the complainant gone silent about those two big charges, except a casual mention at the end? Is it that the earlier complaint was for pure slander? If so, will your “committee” take action against the complainant for engaging in character assassination and against those party functionaries involved in leakage of that slander to the media? Will you ask the party to offer an apology to me and Prashant ji? Or am I asking too much of a “committee” that was designed to deliver pre-determined outcomes?
Waghela ji, I have written this letter to you because I know you were once associated with the JP movement. I want to tell you about a book that moved JP very much and led to his final disillusionment with Soviet Union. This was a book called Assignment in Utopia. (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1937) by Eugene Lyons. The author, once an ardent fan of Stalin, describes how the infamous Moscow trials led to the purging of all the idealist communists that Stalin wanted to throw away. I do not know about your other two colleagues, but I sincerely hope that you do not end up as one of the many minions of Stalin described in that book.