Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Prashant Bhushan" AAP dissenters are being targeted

'The same people who clamoured for a Lokpal whose selection must not be left for the government are today saying they will themselves appoint their own Lokpal. Though our party constitution says the outgoing members of the Lokpal will appoint their successors...'

Prashant Bhushan was one of the four leaders who were voted out of the AAP’s National Executive at a the party’s National Council meeting on Saturday. Bhushan, who had raised questions on the party’s functioning and was voted out of the Political Affairs Committee as well, has alleged that hooliganism and goondagardi was rampant in the Council.

Personally, how much has this controversy hurt you?
It has hurt me personally. But it is not so much a question of personal hurt. It is the fact that people whom I worked closely with and who I had supported have descended to such levels of resorting to blatant lies, resorting to fabrications, of resorting to all kinds of unethical and illegal means and now resorting to hooliganism and goondaism. That is what is most hurting. That even the minimum modicum of decency… For example, I didn’t actually see this because I was looking in front. I was sitting towards the front and I was looking at the front. But when this ruckus started towards the end of Arvind’s speech, his MLAs rushed to say: “gaddaron ko phek do, phek do”. They rushed towards my father because his speech was partly aimed at him. My father says he felt the same thing… it was like the one time he was attacked by dacoits and didn’t know if he would come out alive or not. 

So, what kind of MLAs, what kind of people have we bred? What kind of culture have we bred? And all this was on the instructions, planning and the full encouragement of Arvind. He himself instigated those people, he was there when this was happening. That is why I say that it has become like a Stalinist purge. The manner in which this purge is happening within the party, the manner in which they removed Anand Kumar, Ajit Jha, Yogendra Yadav and me and now the Lokpal himself. And now all these MLA’s that dissented are being targeted. Its like a Stalinist purge.

One of the things that they have questioned is that while the party never had the policy of one man, one post, it does have the policy debarring more than one person of a family holding a post. They say that your sister and father both held posts. How do you answer that?
It was that two members of a family can’t hold two executive posts. My father was not holding any executive posts, my sister was also not holding any executive posts. She was originally organisation development adviser which was not an executive post. She was thereafter AAP global team coordinator which was also not an executive post. She was not in any decision making capacity in the party, to make an executive decision. But it is really remarkable that the persons that are raising this issue and wanted to bring an amendment, that two persons of one family can’t even be invitees in order to prevent my father to be invited, are the same people who are most vociferously saying Arvind should continue to hold the post of Chief Minister as well as National Convener.

The same people who clamoured for a Lokpal whose selection must not be left for the government are today saying they will themselves appoint their own Lokpal. Though our party constitution says the outgoing members of the Lokpal will appoint their successors. Quite apart from the fact that the Lokpal’s term was deemed to be renewed by the fact that he was being asked to function by the party as the Lokpal as late as in February. And under the party’s constitution, his term could be renewed for three years. But yet, when he become inconvenient, when they don’t want a neutral observer at the meeting, they tell him not to come, and they remove him because he has been receiving complaints about the conduct of the meeting itself. Then they proceed to appoint his successor without consulting him.

In the run up to the Delhi elections, while you had raised questions on 12 candidates, it is alleged that you worked against the party and told people not to donate, not to volunteer?
No, that is a misreading. I had said that I am not donating this time. You see, there was a whole history to all this. History was that there were institutional problems that one started seeing immediately after the Lok Sabha elections. It started with this attempt to form the government in Delhi immediately after the Lok Sabha elections with Congress support. 

Which we had opposed. Majority of the PAC opposed, and majority of the National Executive opposed. Arvind continued with that attempt and went to the extent, as the Rajesh Garg sting reveals, of asking people to break away six MLAs from the Congress party. The very six MLA’s whom he had himself accused of having bought over by the BJP for Rs 4 crore each. So he had become so desperate that he wanted to form a government in Delhi with the support of six bought over MLAs.

Thereafter, there was this communal poster printed anonymously by the party that “Kaum ke gaddaron ne haath milaya” and when the party was caught with that, they then put up Amanatullah to take the flak for that and offered him the Okhla seat. Then came this issue of the SMS sent by AVAM, which was also sent by the party, but sent in the name of someone. Then came the issue of the party contesting the elections in Haryana and Maharashtra where in the National Executive, by a majority of 5-4, to allow the states to take their own decisions. But the decision was not allowed to be implemented. Then came this issue of candidate selection. Which, as I said, was completely non transparent, a departure from previous practices.

Names were not put up on the site, and names and biodatas were not being sent to the PAC, which was the final approval body. Even when I asked for it, they were not being sent to me in advance. Then, when we objected to certain candidates, they stopped sending it to the PAC. And they got a lot of people as candidates who were pure political enterpreneurs, who had no ideological commitment. So you see at that stage I said look if this is how the candidates are being selected  I will have to resign from the party, and make public the reasons for my resignation. Which is what they are saying I threatened to hold a press conference.

Yes, I did threaten them that if this is not redressed I will have to resign and resign publicly where I will have to give my reasons. At that stage an emergency meeting was held at my residence on January 4 in which I said all these things. And then it was agreed that all right, as a temporary thing, these complaints against the candidates would be referred to the Lokpal and these institutional issues would be taken up within two days of the elections by the National Executive. Meeting of the NE was delayed till February 26, but instead of taking up the issues of institutional reforms it started with Arvind saying that I am resigning because I want these two people out...
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