Friday, March 27, 2015

Priya James: Kejriwal's Silence Signals the Worst, Writes an AAP Volunteer // Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav's Letter

In a series of blogs, I have written that the current crisis in AAP is not about expelling or keeping Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan. The crisis may have started with these individuals, but it is not about these individuals any more. It is about the "Idea Of AAP", the very foundation of AAP, where we all stood tall and proud till March 1st.

Today thousands of AAP volunteers are standing disappointed and cheated by their leader's immaturity, arrogance and complete lack of accountability. To understand the anguish of an average volunteer, just listen to this audio that went viral in AAP circles. It's the  heartbreaking cry of an AAP volunteer. Now the question is why does an AAP volunteer take this crisis to heart? It was not too long ago that the streets of Delhi swelled with people asking for the Jan Lokpal, an independent anti-corruption agency. It is that Jan Lokpal movement that brought all these volunteers together. AAP is a bi-product of that movement and it is what birthed most AAP volunteers. Their volunteering/activism continued seamlessly into the AAP world after the political party was founded.

The irony is, Arvind Kejriwal (and all of us) wanted a powerful, independent Lokpal which has the power to curtail corruption and victimization of honest people. We wanted a bill that ensure justice and fairness to all, irrespective of power, position including the serving Prime Minister. Yet, AAP let Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan to be expelled from the Political Action Committee without a fair investigation, conveniently ignoring party's internal Lokpal, and letting a few leaders to blatantly abuse their power. No matter what the reasons may be, it is indeed hard to digest for an average AAP volunteer just because of its glaring lack of justice and fairness.

When an AAP volunteer started a Google survey three weeks ago on the current AAP crisis, 11,336 people participated in it, of which 10,906 people were unhappy with the way leaders are handling the  situation. 10,767 even agreed that the points raised by Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan are relevant. Survey on unitedaap.org shows a  large majority of donors are unhappy with the decision. Many surveys & apetition that came after that also showed the same sentiments. In spite of this overwhelming demand for fair investigation, AAP leadership conveniently ignored it and Kejriwal remained silent. This is in contrast to this speech (25:00 - 26:30 seconds) where he says, "In Switzerland if 50,000 people sign on a petition it has to be presented as a bill, while in India even if 500, 000 people sign a petition, our PM won't even sent us an acknowledgment". The irony is that today thousands of volunteers have expressed their opinion through many petitions loud & clear, yet Kejriwal remains silent.

Volunteers who questioned on the fairness and justice are discredited immediately and labelled anti-AAP, pro-Bhushan, anti-Kejriwal, AVAM or BJP agents. Many volunteers who filed RTI are still waiting for a response. Volunteers have been clamoring for the official NC list... absolute no response. On top of all these, there is a deliberate effort to make this crisis into a fight between individuals while it clearly is not. This eagerness to make it into a factional fight is quite unnerving because clearly it shows real issues are being hidden behind false rumors of removal of Kejriwal from Convener position.

Today, the young volunteers who campaigned, debated, danced and convinced voters, friends and family are standing naked in front of the ridiculing crowd and media. Words cannot describe their anguish and sadness. It looks like the volunteers who worked for AAP selflessly are still hanging on to the spirit of Jan Lokpal, while the AAP leaders have moved on to the political games of traditional Indian politics. Ashutosh's blog on "It's a Crisis of Adolescence" even acknowledges this fact openly.

We joined AAP with a hope that we can clean up Indian politics, a political party which is funded with clean money, transparent and democratic. Today, that hope, is at a juncture where values and principles are compromised, volunteer voice silenced, dissent voice muted, leaders abusing their own colleagues, national platforms being misused. It is easy to ignore logorrhea of some leaders, but it is hard to ignore Kejriwal's silence. His silence shouts his approval of all these dirty political games. His continued silence also shows he is leading the way to traditional politics.

March 28, is when NC meeting begins, it will give us a strong clue about AAP's future modus operandi.  On that day, we will know if we have a party with difference or just another political party.  On that day we will know if our efforts are used for good or we were all being used. On that day we will know if the spirit of Jan Lokpal movement will be upheld or not.

"Let each one of us including all our leaders understand that if we think, act and play petty during this historic era of hope, the history and people of India will never forgive us and we are bound to be dumped into the  garbage of history". - Dharamvira Dv Gandhi


An Open Letter from Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, to the Volunteers of Aam Aadmi Party (in English)
Dear Friends,
We do know that the events of the past few days have deeply disturbed our volunteers, be they in India or in different parts of the world. The hope and enthusiasm created by the historic win in Delhi has been dampened. Each volunteer – like you – wants to know why this historic win has been followed by such deep differences and disputes. All volunteers want that there should be no rifts and fights at the top. When volunteers hear of differences between the top leadership of the party through TV and newspapers, when they hear allegations and counter allegations, not only do they feel helpless, but they also feel insulted. This is causing us a deep sense of pain and anguish.
Keeping in mind the party’s best interests, as well as the sentiments of volunteers like you, the two of us have not added anything to the list of allegations and counter-allegations made in the last 10 days. We answered some questions that were posed to us, but we ourselves didn’t ask any questions. We repeatedly appealed to our volunteers and supporters that they should maintain their faith in the party, as the party is much bigger than any individuals. We all have our individual shortcomings, and that is the reason we have an organization where we can complement each other’s shortcomings. That is the reason the party is much bigger than any of us, and that is the reason that we have worked with the party till today and shall continue to do so in the future as well.
However, after four of our colleagues (Mr. Manish Sisodia, Mr. Gopal Rai, Mr. Pankaj Gupta and Mr. Sanjay Singh) made a public statement yesterday, we shall have to break our silence with a heavy heart. Wew are now being pushed to respond to the allegations made on both of us. Their statement putting forward the majority opinion in the National Executive was communicated by Aam Aadmi Party’s Media Cell, as well as the official websites, Facebook page and Twitter handles. Now if we remain silent, it would mean that there is some element of truth in the allegations made against us. That is the reason we want to put the whole truth before you.
Before we go any further, we must clarify that in the aforementioned statement, there were some allegations made linking the two of us to Mr. Shanti Bhushan. As it is well known, Mr.Shanti Bhushan made several statements before the Delhi elections that tarnished the image of party and could have had a negative impact on the preparations for the Delhi elections. His statements caused unhappiness and dissatisfaction to the volunteers of this party. On all such occasions, both of us made public statements expressing our disagreement with his opinions and statements. Since both of our opinion is not in agreement with Mr. Shanti Bhushan, we believe that he should address any questions related to these issues, in his own individual capacity.
Another issue that must be clarified and refuted is the allegation being repeatedly made in the past week. It is being said that this entire dispute is regarding the National Convenorship of the party. It has been said that we have been hatching a conspiracy to remove Arvind Bhai from this position and make Yogendra Yadav the National Convenor. The truth is that we have NEVER discussed this in any formal or informal meeting. In the National Executive meeting on 26th February, when there was a proposal on this issue, both of us voted that his resignation must not be accepted and he MUST continue as the National Convenor of the party. Let us assure you that whatever be the differences and disputes between us, the issue of National Convenorship have never been an issue, and never will be.
After realizing this truth, many volunteers have asked, “If the controversy is not over the post of the National Convenor, then what is the dispute about? Why have such deep differences erupted between the leaders of our party?” So far we have maintained a silence on these issues, so that differences remain within the four walls of the party. However, we now feel that till you know the real issues, you will have doubts and uncertainty in your mind. Therefore, we are discussing the main issues that have been the reason for the differences with Arvind Bhai and other colleagues in the past 10 months. We want you to tell us, whether we should have raised these issues or not?.. read full text: