Sunday, March 29, 2015

Disappointed AAP didn't inform me of removal as Lokpal, says Admiral L Ramdas

Admiral L Ramdas, who was on Sunday removed as AAP's internal Lokpal, expressed disappointment that the party leadership took the step without informing him about the decision. He said, in an informal meeting last month, the party had actually requested him to continue for additional five years. "It is with great surprise and sadness that I heard today from a reporter that the Aam Aadmi Party no longer requires my services as its internal Lokpal. Various media reports have subsequently confirmed this news.

"I am disappointed that the leadership of the party did not... inform me first before making this decision public. I still await their phone call," Ramdas said in a statement. AAP today removed Ramdas and Prashant Bhushan as the chief of National Disciplinary Committee, a day after the latter and senior leader Yogendra Yadav were expelled from the National Executive (NE).

The former navy chief has been the party's Lokpal since its inception. His removal came a day after he was sent an SMS by party's national secretary Pankaj Gupta, asking him not to attend the National Council meeting to avoid "confrontation". "I am surprised because less than two weeks ago the party publicly reaffirmed its confidence in me. At no point in my tenure did the party express to me any dissatisfaction with my service," the statement said.

The party leadership is also upset with him for writing a letter to the members of the Political Affairs Committee and National Executive last month in which he was critical of it. He also noted about two camps emerging within top leadership and had asked the party to consider 'one-man, one-post' arrangement. 

"Neither did its leaders question my neutrality or my objectivity in this position. As recently as January 2015, I was asked to investigate complaints against potential electoral candidates. "I took it as a sign of the party's confidence in me when on February 15, at an informal meeting at the home of Mr Kejriwal, in the presence of many other senior leaders of the party, including members of the executive committee, I was actually requested to consider serving an additional five years as Lokpal," he said. 

Ramdas said his two letters-- one written last month which snowballed into a controversy and second, which was written yesterday-- were only intended to remind the members the founding principles of the party. "I have tried to discharge my duties and responsibilities to the best of my abilities. My two previous letters, one which became public, the other which was intended to be public, reflected my effort to encourage various leaders of the party to work together to remember the principles on which it was founded and to make sure that the promises made to the electorate- to the people- were fulfilled. "Unfortunately I did not succeed in that effort," Ramdas said.

Reacting to the removal of Ramdas, Yogendra Yadav said that the National Executive did not have the power to appoint the new Lokpal. "As per party's constitution, the NE has no authority to appoint new Lokpal. Only the Lokpal can appoint a successor. "Shocked to hear that a party built on Lokpal movement has thrown out its own Lokpal. Read admiral Ramdas letter of yesterday," Yadav tweeted. Ramdas added that despite his removal he still thinks that the party will fulfill its promise of good governance in Delhi.

"I still hope that the party which has fired the imagination and hopes of so many Indians will be able to fulfill its promises of good governance, both internally and externally, in the exercise of political power in its new capacity as the government of Delhi. I wish them well in this endeavour. "I am, however, more sad than surprised. It was with a sense of excitement and hope that I became part of this movement to bring a new kind of politics to India. I believed in the ideals of transparency, accountability and fairness that was encapsulated in the institution of the Lokpal. And, I was honoured to be the first person to serve in this capacity," he added.