Updated: March 28, 2015 8:39:53 am
DIPANKAR GHOSE explains the AAP National Council, and what might happen at its meeting today.
What is the AAP National Council (NC)?
It is the party’s highest policy-making body, with over 350 voting members. The AAP constitution says the NC will have elected district-, state-, national-level coordinators from across the country, with a term of three years. When the party was formed in 2012, however, it had no organisation at the state and district levels, so all those who moved from India Against Corruption to AAP and became its founder members, were made members of the first NC. Many have left the party since; others have been brought it.
The NC elects the party’s highest executive decision-making body, the National Executive, which in turn elects the highest political decision-making body, the Political Affairs Committee.
It is unclear how many voting members the NC has. Some say there are 352, others say it is closer to 380. Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav have alleged that the lack of clarity is being used to manipulate, with unauthorised people being invited, and many members not being sent invites. Bhushan has also alleged that despite asking, he has not been given a list of members.
Who will chair the National Council?
Because Arvind Kejriwal is directly involved in the conflict, Yadav and Bhushan want that the “offices of the internal Lokpal”, former Navy Chief Admiral Ramdas, be used to ensure an “orderly and fair National Council”. However, the AAP constitution is clear that the NC would be chaired by the party’s National Convenor. If the National Convenor “is not available”, the NC can elect its chair. Kejriwal is National Convenor.
What procedures will be followed in the NC?
There is a raging debate in the party on this. Ordinarily, anyone who is part of the NC can move a resolution, which can be passed by simple majority. Bhushan and Yadav have asked for the meeting to be videographed, and Anand Kumar wants it webcast. They have also asked that if matters come down to a vote, which seems inevitable, the principle of secret ballot be followed. But Sanjay Singh has said that the rebels can’t decide rules unilaterally, and the NC would decide its procedures.
What could happen at the National Council on Saturday?
Thus far, the numbers seem tilted towards Kejriwal. The influential Delhi and UP state units are completely loyal to him, and many across the country acknowledge he is the party’s undisputed leader. But the Kejriwal camp would be wary of Bhushan. The Yadav-Bhushan faction already has enough support to make matters uncomfortable, and the credibility that Bhushan brings is immense. They have focused their argument on institutional change.
Is the party headed for a split?
A resolution seeking the removal of Yadav, Bhushan and their supporters like Anand Kumar, from not just the NE but the party itself, seems likely enough. But Bhushan has said that the party constitution does not allow the NC to remove a member from the party; the NE has the power to refer this to the Lokpal or a disciplinary committee, which can then take drastic action. In case of a secret ballot, things could get close.
Still, with the AAP, there’s no telling what could happen. Yadav and Bhushan could be forced out, or might resign on their own. They could also remain in the party — with no resolution but continued infighting. Or, the party could split — with Kejriwal, like he said in the tape, breaking away to form his own. On the other hand, even Yadav, Anand Kumar and Bhushan could form their own party.
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