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Monday, February 17, 2020

Rebel group AVAM tries to cement splinters within

AVAM, applying a different strategy, alleged that the AAP received money from “dubious companies”.

Written by Aditi Vatsa | New Delhi | Published: February 5, 2015 3:25:10 am

In the last leg of campaigning for the Delhi polls, the AAP found itself in a controversy surrounding its funding process. At the heart of the controversy was a group that had come from within it — the AAP Volunteers Action Manch (AVAM). It was formed by volunteers who broke away from Kejriwal’s party after complaining that volunteers got no role in its decision-making process.

The AVAM on Monday took a different trajectory. It alleged that the AAP received money from “dubious companies”.

“After we found that the information was genuine, it was our duty to inform the people of Delhi about such activities in the AAP, especially since elections are near,” Karan Singh, who heads the AVAM, said.

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Singh is a former AAP volunteer who was asked by Kejriwal to look at volunteers’ grievances in May 2014. “After being given the responsibility of looking at volunteers’ grievances, we set up AVAM. We had told the party that in order to ensure better representation of volunteers, one elected volunteer representative should be a part of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC), state and district units,” Singh said. But Singh was expelled from the AAP in July last year.

But sources said AVAM’s composition too has undergone a shift — a lot like the AAP. A section of disgruntled active AAP volunteers who had joined AVAM broke away months ago.

Saman Quraishi, who had been a part of the AAP campaign team during Lok Sabha polls, joined AVAM last year. However, when the party held demonstrations at Jantar Mantar in August last year, Quraishi quit the organisation.

On the recent developments, Quraishi said, “This was not the idea behind AVAM’s constitution. A lot has changed since I left the party. Shazia Ilmi has joined the BJP. The transactions, which the AVAM brought to the attention of the media, took place eight months ago. To bring up this issue three days before polls seems like a political gimmick.”

Soon after its formation, AVAM came out with a video clipping of AAP founder-member Shanti Bhushan endorsing AVAM, calling it “a good system and organisation which had emerged within the party so that volunteers’ grievances and demands come to the party and the contact with volunteers continues.” Following Bhushan’s endorsement, Ilmi also extended support to AVAM.

But the AAP shunned the group and refused to endorse it. It had issued a statement, saying that the forum had been launched by “some people who claim this to be the official channel for soliciting volunteer feedback & grievances”.

“The AAP would like to categorically state that it does not endorse this channel/organisation. This can potentially be an attempt by politically motivated mindsets, to create confusion and to acquire AAP volunteer data,” it read.

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