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AAP leader Yogendra Yadav siting on dharna with supporters ahead of National Council meeting on Saturday. Pradeep Gaur/Mint
AAP leader Yogendra Yadav siting on dharna with supporters ahead of National Council meeting on Saturday. Pradeep Gaur/Mint

AAP expels Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan from national executive

A resolution to remove Bhushan and Yadav was passed with a majority at the national council meeting

New Delhi: Four founding members of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), including Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, were removed from the party’s national executive on Saturday at a meeting of the party’s national council, AAP’s highest policy making body, making apparent the rift that has been caused in the party.

A resolution to remove Bhushan and Yadav was passed by a majority of the 311 council members that attended the meeting. Yadav’s supporters Anand Kumar and Ajit Jha were also removed from the national executive.

The leaders alleged that the meeting had been rigged and was a mockery of democracy.

Soon after the expulsion of the four leaders, social activist Medha Patkar resigned from the party. “What happened at the AAP meeting in Delhi today is unfortunate," Patkar told reporters in Mumbai after announcing she was leaving the party.

“I condemn what happened with Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav," Patkar said, adding AAP has become a tamasha.

In New Delhi, Bhushan alleged that the national executive meeting was a total farce where goons were brought. “Our supporters were beaten up inside the meeting," he said. Bhushan also said that whatever Delhi chief minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal was heard saying in an audio tape on Friday was played out in the entirety in Saturday’s meeting.

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AAP leader Yougendra Yadav outside the meeting area. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Yadav and Bhushan did not rule out taking legal recourse against their removal. “It is true that we can move the court, Election Commission or call another meeting of the NC. All options are open," he said.

On 4 March, the national executive had removed Yadav and Bhushan from the political affairs committee (PAC) of the party.

Addressing the media after walking out of the national council meeting, Yogendra Yadav said, “It is with great regret that I have to say that in this national council meeting democracy has been murdered today. This whole thing was scripted. MLA’s (Members of the legislative assembly) were involved in ruffling, pushing. There were bouncers present."

“I am ashamed. I apologize to all our volunteers, supporter and sympathizers. This is not what the AAP came into politics for. They had a script, we don’t have a script," Yadav added.

However, senior leader Sanjay Singh, a supporter of Kejriwal, denied any physical altercations in the meeting. Singh said, “No violence took place. No one was hit or had been injured."

Replying to a question on whether he thinks the Delhi CM had become a dictator, Bhushan said, “(I) have been telling Arvind that he has dictatorial tendencies and he needs to curb those. With great regret I have to say that I failed at my attempt to curb his dictatorial tendencies and they have now taken an ugly form."

Yadav also made public a letter, written by AAP’s internal Lokpal Ramdas to the party leadership, in which the former Indian Navy chief expressed surprise over the party asking him not to attend the meet to “avoid confrontation". In the letter, Ramdas cited the SMS he received from AAP general secretary Pankaj Gupta, in which several reasons were stated by the party for its decision to ask him to skip the meeting.

“It was nothing else but Kejriwal’s emotional appeal to all NC members and his offer to resign from all the four posts of the party which decided the fate of the four leaders," said an AAP national council member who was speaking on condition of anonymity. The council member, who made the comments while taking a break from the meeting, also said that the charge being made by the ousted leaders that a “pre-scripted drama" had been staged to remove them was, “nothing but a bundle of lies".

“In his 10 minute-speech, Kejriwal played an emotional card and briefed the members, saying it had become impossible for him to work for the party while Yadav and Bhushan remained members of the national executive," said the member. “’Either you get rid of them (Bhushan, Yadav) or free me from all the four posts of the party’," he quoted Kejriwal as having said at the meeting.

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Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

In a letter to the national secretary, Yadav and Bhushan had demanded that Saturday’s proceedings be recorded and be conducted by a neutral person.

Along with the removal of the senior leaders, the council also made the PAC stronger by giving it the power to take action against members who issued statements against party line. “The national council has also authorized the PAC to take disciplinary action against any member who, without authorization, issues media statement against party line and decisions in a bid to tarnish the party’s image," said a statement released by AAP.

The NC also decided to set committees to address organization building across India, volunteer engagement and their participation in decision making, suggestion to Delhi government and their implementation, contesting elections in different states and the land acquisition ordinance bill. The party will organize a protest outside the Parliament on 22 April.

The ongoing tussle in the AAP has brought criticism from leaders of other party’s as well.

Finance minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said that AAP should fulfil the promises it had made to the public during Delhi assembly polls. “With a lot of expectation and high hopes, people of Delhi had chosen the government. The promises which AAP and its leaders have made with public, they must fulfil them," Jaitley told reporters in Varanasi. “They should not let this historical opportunity go waste just because of their immature politics."

“The ongoing tussle is the internal affair of the party and they must resolve it so that the people of Delhi don’t have to suffer," Communist Party of India (Marxist) politburo member and Rajya Sabha MP Sitaram Yechury was quoted as saying in Jammu by PTI.

“First AAP should set its house in order and start delivering in Delhi. That is our concern, Delhi citizens’ concern and Delhi community’s concern. And this kind of laundering goes on in open spectacle every day...then I think Delhi is the biggest sufferer," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.

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