The crises within Aam Aadmi Party further deepened with the two warring factions trading charges over the removal of party Lokpal Admiral Ramdas. The former navy chief was replaced by the 3-member panel to function as party’s internal Lokpal. Admiral Ramdas has been party’s internal Lokpal since its inception in November 2012.
The move is seen an extension of action taken against the Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan faction. The two along with Proffesor Anand Kumar and Ajit Jha were ousted from the party’s frontal body- National Executive on Saturday in an acrimonious National Council meet.
However, the party defended removal in its official version terming it a due process. “A new Lokpal committee has been constituted. The tenure of Ramdas was over, so a new Lokpal had to be appointed. It should not be seen as a removal or sacking” said senior leader Sanjay Singh.
The Lokpal office has now been replaced with 3-member Lokpal panel consisting of former IPS officer N. Dilip Kumar, former CISF DIG Rakesh Sinha and educationist SP Verma.
Prashant Bhushan, has also been removed from the party’s Disciplinary Committee, which ironically was headed by him. Terming the series of action arbitrary, Bhushan attacked Arvind Kejriwal and members loyal to him saying “This is a Stalinist regime and only one man’s writ will run. It is farcical to appoint Khetan in the disciplinary committee when he has made personal comments against me.”
Reacting to his ‘removal’ Admiral Ramdas made his disappointment clear as he wrote to the party “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. As recently as January 2015, I was asked to investigate complaints against potential electoral candidates.”
Further, in a move aimed at rehauling the party units with Kejriwal loyalists General Secretary Pankaj Gupta, Ashish Khetan and Dinesh Waghela will now be heading Disciplinary Committee and Sanjay Singh has been given charge of an organisational committee to take stock of Aam Admi Party’s nationwide expansion plans.
The brimming feud within the two factions reached peak on Saturday with National Council witnessing an ‘emotional’ pitch made by the party convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to “choose between him or Yadav-Kejriwal duo”. That was followed by a big drama where the clash ensued and supporters of Yadav-Bhushan faction were allegedly manhandled by the supporters of Kejriwal and the ‘bouncers’. Soon after the two were ousted from the National Executive and now after their removal from other party panels, the way for their complete removal seems to have been paved.
However, amid the internal meltdown, the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal told reporters today, “There is no need for worry. The party is doing fine. We will manage it well.”
AAP got a historic mandate in Delhi Assembly elections held just two months ago winning 67 out of 70 Assembly seats.
It is only an irony that a party formed from a massive public movement advocating a strong anti-corruption body chose to replace its own Lokpal in what is alleged to be a questioning and an unceremonious manner.