In the run-up to the Swaraj Samwad meet called by Yogendra Yadav on April 14, the AAP dissident leader held a meeting of a faction of party leaders and volunteers from across Maharashtra in Girgaum, Mumbai, on Friday.
Party volunteers said that the meet was part of mass mobilisation effort within the party to demand for internal democracy in the wake of recent events which culminated in the ouster of leader Prashant Bhusan and Yadav from various important committees and the sacking of retired navy chief Admiral Ramdas from the post of the party’s Lokpal.
Friday’s meeting was attended mainly by leaders who joined the party after having spearheaded various social movements across the state. Those present include Maruti Bapkar, Manav Kamble, Sanjeev Sane, Lalit Babar and Shakil Ahmed.
“AAP was meant to be a value-based party promoting a political culture of collective leadership, Swaraj, transparency but it turned out to be like any other political party. Our meeting was meant to look at ways to restore these values in the party. However if we find that there is no space for us, it is not like we will give up on politics entirely,” said Ahmed adding that a decision on whether to form an alternate party will be taken only after all other means have been exhausted. He added that though several others in the party backed Yadav, the fear of facing the wrath of the party leadership had held them back from associating with him openly.
Both AAP leader Mayank Gandhi and Maharashtra state convenor of AAP Subhash Ware were conspicuous by their absence at the meeting. As the National executive member, Gandhi had abstained from voting only to blog about his discontent with the whole process later while Ware had voted in favour of Yadav and Bhushan staying on in the party’s top Political Affairs Commitee.
“I had no idea about the meeting called by Yadav in Mumbai; it was only for a select few. There is definitely a divide within the leadership in AAP Maharashtra which was also evident in the way Gandhi and Ware voted in the National executive meet which showed that they support Yadav and Bhushan. But people are allowed to air their views,” said Preeti Sharma Menon, AAP’s national spokesperson.
This was the fourth in a series of such meetings held all over the country with Yadav already chairing similar interactions in Punjab, Haryana and Lucknow. A spokesperson for Yadav said that efforts were also on to drum up support through various social media fora. Yadav is expected to address a Google Hangout of all his supporters on Saturday evening.