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Split in AAP: Yadav and Bhushan to form new party?

New Delhi: Ousted Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Prashant Bhushan has indicated to form a new political party after he and Yogendra Yadav were expelled from the national executive.

According to reports, all the volunteers will meet on April 14 to take a concrete decision over the matter. The meeting is expected to be attended by several members of the party's national executive and national council. Earlier on Saturday, Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav were ousted from the party's national executive.

Out of the 311 national executive members present in yesterday's national council meeting, an overwhelming 247 members voted against Bhushan and Yadav while just 8 votes were cast in their favour. The party also removed Anand Kumar and Ajit Jha from the national executive.

The party's internal rift had widened after Yadav and Bhushan were accused of working for party's defeat during the Delhi Assembly polls last month.

  • Published in National

AAP's Vishwas accused of having affair with party volunteer

New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Monday once again made headlines for the wrong reasons following allegations that senior party leader Kumar Vishwas had an affair with a volunteer in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Vishwas had unsuccessfully contested against Rahul Gandhi from Amethi in the last general elections.

Within minutes of the newsbreak on Monday afternoon, Twitter exploded with numerous photographs of Vishwas and AAP’s women supporters, posted by various users.

The hashtag — #exposingkumarvishwas — started trending on Twitter, with users divided in their opinions about the poet-turned-politician. The controversy was fuelled by senior party leader Anand Kumar’s statement that the party rift would reach the bedrooms and drawing rooms of the leaders. 

A series of emails exchanged between the top leadership of the party, deciding the course of action— after they received a complaint against Vishwas — has come to light.

In December last year, senior party officials received an email from a man --- claiming to be one Ajay Vohra --- accusing Vishwas of accepting black money and indulging in a physical relationship with a volunteer from Amethi constituency, from where he was contesting. In the emails, it was also alleged that Vishwas’s wife also knew about it. 

AAP spokesperson Ashish Khetan refused to comment on the matter.

Vishwas too remained unavailable for comments but posted several tweets from his account throughout the day daring Ajay Vohra to reveal his true identity. When HT called him, another person answered and told us to refer to Vishwas’s tweets.

Vishwas uploaded an interview he had given to a news channel — on Twitter— on Monday afternoon. In the interview, he said anyone can create an email id and level such allegations. He even blamed rival parties, saying that it was the ‘dirty tricks department’ of other parties who were behind the mail.

When asked why there was no investigation into the complaint, Vishwas told the interviewer, “All leaders (who received the email) asked the man to come forward with the allegations. Where is he? Even today, I dare the sender to reveal his identity. It is easy to create an email id and send emails to everyone.”

Vohra in his mails also claimed to have an audio tape, proving his allegations.

  • Published in National
Medha resigns from AAP

Medha resigns from AAP

Mumbai: Medha Patkar, social activist, resigned from the Aam Aadmi Party on Saturday, condemning the “insult and unfair treatment” meted out to its founder members Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan.

She described the manner of their removal from the party’s national executive as “unfortunate,” “sad” and “disappointing”, and question-ed the party’s “undemocratic” way of functioning.

Ms. Patkar said she had no reason left to stay in the party after the developments in New Delhi, and held that the AAP was behaving just like other national parties.

“We expect that crucial decisions would be taken after discussions. But the way in which Mr. Yadav and Mr. Bhushan were insulted is something I strongly condemn. I believe there was also some jostling and pushing around … some volunteers were not allowed inside ... this is very sad,” Ms. Patkar said.

Medha backs Yadav and Bhushan

Terming the contribution of Mr. Yadav and Mr. Bhushan to the party and its ideology as vast, Ms. Patkar defended the two leaders, recalling their participation in people’s movement and the campaign against corruption.

“I have not known of any instance in which they have been involved in anti-party activities. In fact, these leaders have led the way for the party’s ideology and manifesto,” she told presspersons in her office in Mumbai.

The founding member of the Narmada Bachao Andolan and veteran of many mass movements, Ms. Patkar lamented that though the AAP had secured the mandate in Delhi on two occasions, the party had failed to emerge as the flag-bearer of alternative politics at the national level.

She, however, refrained from targeting Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal or his team personally. “I don’t want to make any allegations. We don’t want to wash our dirty linen in public,” she said hoping that Mr. Kejriwal would still “sit and resolve his differences” with other senior members of the party in a democratic manner.

“I still hope that he holds discussions with those with whom he has differences and keeps doing the work he has got the mandate for,” she said.

Commenting on a “sting tape” in which Mr. Kejriwal is heard allegedly abusing Mr. Yadav and Mr. Bhushan, she said its authenticity needed to be verified, but “if it is true it is unfortunate and wrong.” “I would like to hope that Mr. Kejriwal did not use such language,” she said. Ms. Patkar said she did not regret joining the party. She had never accepted any post.
  • Published in Mumbai
AAP will extinct by 2017, Kejrival will be physically assaulted: Predicts astrologer

AAP will extinct by 2017, Kejrival will be physically assaulted: Predicts astrologer

New Delhi: In December 2013, astrologer Sushil Chaturvedi predicted that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) would either witness infighting or withdrawal of support by the Congress. Kejriwal's popularity, he said, would take a hit, and by November 2014, those who once supported him would oppose him. Looking at the current scenario, it is safe to say that Chaturvedi's predictions have come true.

Chaturvedi, who has decades' worth of experience penning astrology columns for national dailies, had more predictions in store for AAP. "The party will collapse by January 2017, and there will be a vertical split before June 15 this year. There is a possibility of another faction of the party being launched. Arvind Kejriwal will disappear by 2017, and there will be a big revolt against him on Delhi's streets for not fulfilling the promises he made. Kejriwal may even get physically assaulted. It will be like the Battle of Waterloo for him," he said.

In the past, Chaturvedi had predicted the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, the feud between Mukesh and Anil Ambani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee becoming Prime Minister (PM) and Saddam Hussein's downfall. He foresaw that Sonia Gandhi would not become PM, and that Priyanka Gandhi was not destined for politics. He also made predictions about Narendra Modi and said that both Modi and Kejriwal would face tough times ahead, although Modi would come out with flying colours. "Modi will be the PM for a minimum of 10 years," he said.

  • Published in National

Yadav, Bhushan expelled AAP: Medha Patkar quits party

New Delhi: AAP founder members Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, who had challenged Arvind Kejriwal's leadership, were on Saturday removed from the party's powerful national executive by an overwhelming majority at the national council meet, a move slammed as "murder of democracy" by the duo.

Amid high drama, a resolution to remove the two dissident leaders was passed by around 230 of around 300 national council members present in the meeting.

After making an emotional speech, party convenor Arvind Kejriwal left the venue before the resolution to remove the two leaders was introduced by Manish Sisodia.

"It was a murder of democracy. Everything played out in accordance with a predetermined script and the resolution was moved and passed within minutes completely disregarding laid down procedures. It was a total farce," said a visibly agitated Yadav.

Yadav's supporters Anand Kumar and Ajit Jha were also removed from the national executive at the meeting.

Bhushan alleged that there was bogus voting in the meeting and Kejriwal came fully prepared to "kick us out" from the party.

"Whatever Kejriwal was heard saying in a sting yesterday was played out in the entirety in today's meeting. There was no distinction between members and others. There was no discussion, no secret vote, no showing of votes in the meeting," the eminent lawyer said?

Yadav alleged the violence was pre-planned and that a number of NC members opposed to the resolution suffered injuries as they were heckled by "bouncers" and "outside goons".

"All the while Kejirwal stood by pretending that he was helpless," said Yadav.

The Kejriwal camp countered the allegations saying the dissident duo were "cooking up stories to get sympathy."

"They should respect the decision of the party," partly leader Ashutosh said.

Both Bhushan and Yadav said they will stay within the party and carry forward their fight for internal democracy.

"We will neither leave the party nor break it. We will reform and reform the party," they said.

The AAP will now move its disciplinary panel to remove Yadav and Bhushan from the party altogether, sources said.
Violence marred the meeting with supporters from both camps shouting slogans and pushing and shoving each other outside the venue.

AAP now a tamasha: Medha

Hours later, veteran social activist Medha Patkar resigned from the party, stating that it has reduced itself to a "tamasha."

"What happened at the AAP meeting in Delhi today is unfortunate," Patkar told reporters in Mumbai after announcing she was leaving the party.
"Political principles are being trampled upon in the party," said the veteran activist, who has been a key figure in the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit.

Yadav stages dharna

Shortly before the meeting began, Yadav staged a brief dharna alleging that many members were not allowed to attend.

"I am told that at least 15-20 legitimate members, who have been sent invitations, are not being allowed inside," Yadav told reporters outside the venue at Kapashera on the outskirts of Delhi.

Almost 10 days of negotiations have failed to bridge the gap that emerged after the party's disastrous national election debut last year and that has widened in the days since the party scored a spectacular victory in the Delhi assembly elections.

A senior party member told HT that the party's break up cannot be ruled out.

Split wide open

Chances of a truce had nosedived on Friday as Bhushan and Yadav publicly accused Kejriwal of stifling internal democracy and adopting unfair means to capture power, while the other camp hit back, alleging that the party veterans were trying to sabotage the two-year-old outfit.

Adding fuel to the bitter feud, an audio sting tape surfaced late in the evening in which Kejriwal is purportedly heard hurling invectives at Yadav and Bhushan, saying he was not interested in talking to them and that if needed he would quit AAP and float a new party with his 67 MLAs. 

Analysts say if the tape is authentic, this shows that while the Delhi chief minister was publicly silent as the dispute was snowballing, he had probably made up his mind that there could be no reconciliation and the two senior leaders had to go.

Yadav and Bhushan alleged at a press conference that any issue raised by them was being projected as questioning Kejriwal's leadership and attempts to remove him from the post of AAP's national convenor.

The party has been torn between two camps, one supporting Kejriwal and the other comprising veterans like Yadav and Bhushan who have accused the chief minister of running things in a dictatorial way.

Yadav and Bhushan said they will quit all "executive posts" if the 5 demands they had placed before the leadership—including bringing the party under the ambit of the RTI Act, ordering a probe by the AAP's ombudsman into allegations of wrongdoing and giving state units more autonomy—were met.

"We had sent a note to the party placing our demands which is now being shown as our resignation letter, whereas it was a conditional letter to resign. We had said if our five demands are met, we will resign from all party posts," Yadav said.

Bhushan criticised Kejriwal accusing him of trying to poach Congress legislators to form a government in Delhi last year.

The Kejriwal camp struck back minutes later, saying Yadav and Bhushan were attempting to damage the party and discredit it with baseless allegations.

  • Published in National
AAP govt hikes water tariff by 10% for usage above 20,000 litres

AAP govt hikes water tariff by 10% for usage above 20,000 litres

New Delhi: The AAP government in on Thursday hiked the water tariff by 10% for households consuming more than the free supply of 20,000 litres per month.

About a month after the AAP announced a scheme of free water, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia chaired a Delhi Jal Board meeting and cleared the proposal even as BJP and Congress said it was a “betrayal of people’s trust”.

The hike will be applicable only to households which consume more than 20,000 litres of water per month. Those getting free water will continue getting it free.

“The hike has been approved in order to keep the financial health of the water utility intact,” an official statement said. The new rates became effective from Thursday.

The government also decided to regularise all unauthorised water connections by taking a fee of Rs 3,310 which was earlier Rs 20,000. This will encourage consumers to go for authorised connections and check revenue loss.

Sisodia defended the decision and said free water to citizens can only be provided to an extent. “Water is free for those who consume up to an extent. We have to also think about saving water,” he said.

The government will purchase 250 water tankers to help people living in areas not linked with piped water network. The gover nment also announced approval of 100 per cent rebate on the late payment surcharge amount for domestic water consumers, who need to clear their water bills by March 31.
  • Published in National
AAP in news, but for wrong reasons

AAP in news, but for wrong reasons

After creating sensation in Delhi election with tremendous victory, the onus was on Kejrival to keep the party on news with its people friendly works. But rather than the delivery of its poll promises, what has ensured that the party dominates headlines is  one-sided mutiny against two of AAP's founder leaders; and the twin blows of a former party MLA accusing Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of trying to poach six Congress MLAs  and the exit of the party's  prominent Mumbai face Anjali Damania.

On Wednesday, the chorus of dissent within the party reached its crescendo when Anjali Damania, AAP’s Maharashtra convener announced on Twitter that she was leaving the party.

She had tweeted  “I quit. I have not come into AAP for this nonsense. I believed him. I backed Arvind for principles not horse-trading,” after posting a link to an India TV news report in which Kejriwal was allegedly seeking the support of Congress MLAs to form a government in Delhi. While AAP has dismissed the  the audio, saying it was an attempt to defame the party, the tape released by former MLA Rajesh Garg does allegedly show Kejriwal in conversation with him and planning the horse-trading of six Congress MLAs into AAP.

This was followed by sidelined senior leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan writing an open letter to party volunteers accusing Kejriwal of trying to align with the Congress for government formation.  The duo also denied any move by them to evict Kejriwal as the national convener of the party.

Damania's exit comes at a time when the signature campaign against Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav by all the AAP MLAs - reportedly a lot of them forced to sign on blank papers by party leaders — could culminate in the expulsion of the two leaders. It won’t lead to a split because the two are almost isolated and the tyranny that has taken over the party is not essentially that of Arvind Kejriwal, but that of its powerful Delhi lobby.


So what one is witnessing in the capital is more of a shakeout than a shakeup. The Delhi leaders want to consolidate and take control of the party because what they are part of now is the dirty game of politics and consolidation of power. The days of lofty ideals, however discursive there were, and suave appearances are over, now is the time to establish authority and perpetuate power.

Not that Yadav and Bhushan are outsiders to Delhi, but certainly they don’t fit the profile of most of the Delhi leaders, or their supporters. The duo are strong votaries of participative democracy, civil and human rights, and equality. Ideology precedes their civil and political activism and AAP, they perhaps thought, would be a vehicle to pursue their political purpose because Kejriwal too appeared to be on the same page. The trio — two ideologues and one disruptive activist — seemed tailor-made to create a new politics in the country.

But the politics of bourgeoisie democracy intervened and now they have to pay the essential price. For the Delhi leaders, the result in Delhi, whether it has gone to their heads or not, is the fruit of their hard work. AAP is a Delhi-grown phenomenon and they don’t want to part the glory with anybody else. The issues that the party raised, the demographics of its support and the way it was born and nurtured were unique to Delhi. They don’t see it as a pilot of alliterate politics in India. In fact none of them, not even Ashish Khaitan or Ashutosh speak on national politics these days.

The vision of Bhushan and Yadav contrasts with their possessive Delhi comrades. They always thought pan-Indian and the contest in Delhi as an experiment for scale up across India. They were the only AAP leaders who travelled across India, other than Kejriwal making public speeches, to oversee the organisational arrangements of the party during the Lok Sabha elections and strongly believed in a rapid scale up. However, their trial failed and attracted rebuke from all quarters. It failed to impress in Delhi and some even wrote the AAP off as a flash in the pan.

But, it was the indomitable local spirit that brought the party back. And this time, they want to consolidate and take control of the party. Whether Kejriwal is a wilfull participant or not, he wouldn’t have a choice. He will be their captive. They want him as the mascot and he cannot survive without him.

Politically this is fine. Its’ a working model and its sponsors seem to be happy about it. But the flip-side of this parochial possessiveness is that AAP will get limited to Delhi. The signs of such a localisation is all too visible. Local leaders such as Mayank Gandhi (Maharashtra) have spoken out against the leadership and in other states the organisational machinery that volunteers had set up for the Lok Sabha elections are in tatters. The AAP is virtually non-existent outside Delhi, except in Haryana and Punjab. With the exit of Bhushan and Yadav, the chances of AAP becoming a Delhi party are very high. Kejriwal will not have a choice. As he gets burdened by his own poll-promises, he won’t have time for anything else. And there is not a single leader in the Delhi caucus who can take the campaign to other parts of India.

This was sure to happen because from their days of civil society disobedience and resistance and a dream of clean politics, what these leaders, including Arvind Kejriwal, had walked into was India’s bourgeoisie democracy — it’s difficult to escape its traps. If the most idealistic Congress and the Communists could fail its test, the AAP will be no exception.

Now the less important question. Will their exit weaken the party? In terms of practical politics, it won’t because that’s what history has taught us. Big guns had left or had been made redundant by the Congress from time to time. Similarly, the CPM always expelled veteran leaders and has moved on.

The AAP too will do the same. But what it will do in the process will be reducing its grand vision of alternative politics in the country to being in power in Delhi. The AAP has failed its first test; it will fail in the other tests too.

  • Published in People
After horse trade, Kejrival now says AAP only option for Muslims in another tape

After horse trade, Kejrival now says AAP only option for Muslims in another tape

New Delhi: In an embarrassment to the AAP, another audio tape emerged in which AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal allegedly talks of Muslims having no option other than AAP to stop the Narendra Modi wave.

Earlier, a tape surfaced in which Kejriwal is purportedly talking of poaching on Congress MLAs to form government in Delhi.

In the audio--recorded before Delhi Assembly polls--Kejriwal is heard as having said that Muslims don't expect AAP to field many candidates from their community but wants the party to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"If the party thinks that we field 11 Muslim candidates, then forget it. The question is not that AAP is giving 11 seats to people from the Muslim community. Muslims are looking at us in a way that if anyone can stop the Modi rath, then it is only Aam Aadmi Party.

"This is the hope that Muslims have from us. They don't have any hope that more Muslim candidates will be fielded. Do a survey of 2000, 3000 and 5000 people. Do a survey of Muslims. What is the priority?

"Today, no one is able to stop the Modi rath in the country. They are forming governments in states one after the other. Today, Muslims are looking at us...if anyone can stop the Modi rath. Congress is over. It has given up. It is not contesting polls. They are asking us to field 11 seats," Kejriwal is heard saying in the tape believed to have been released by a dissident AAP leader.

In a tape that had surfaced on Wednesday, Kejriwal is purpotedly heard as talking of poaching six Congress MLAs to form government in Delhi last year.

  • Published in National
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