AAP ombudsman sees ‘growth of two camps’ in party
New Delhi, March 1
Amidst rumblings of a crisis within the AAP, a letter by its “internal Lokpal” has pointed to the growth of two camps within the top leadership of the party due to an “abject breakdown in communication and mutual trust” and said it needs to make efforts to address criticisms over inner-party democracy.
With sources saying that differences have cropped up between senior AAP members, especially over the selection of candidates for the Delhi Assembly polls, the letter recommended that any criticism of intra-party democracy needed to be dealt with by an independent group which carries out an internal audit.
letter written ahead of the party’s national executive meet last week, Admiral Ramdas, a former Navy chief and the party’s “internal Lokpal”, also said that the AAP must make efforts to become a genuinely gender-sensitive party as neither its political affairs committee nor the Delhi government led by it has any woman members.
“During the past six to eight months, there has been an abject breakdown in communications and mutual trust amongst the topmost leadership of the party. This has in my view led to the growth of two camps within the party and loose talk about conspiracies. “This is unacceptable and shows that we are no different from any of the parties whom we criticise so vocally. I sincerely urge the entire leadership of the party… to stop listening to rumours and to discourage colleagues… who continually bring negative feedback about each other,” Admiral Ramdas said in the letter.
The letter says there was a crisis situation just ahead of the Delhi elections over issues raised by Prashant Bhushan who, it claims, also threatened to resign if his concerns were not addressed.
“In end December 2014, there was a crisis situation brought about by Bhushan’s unhappiness with candidate selection and the decision-making processes. If not addressed, he said he would be forced to resign from the party and go public.
“To contain this, a special meeting was called in Delhi on January 3-4, 2015, where a decision was taken to refer the issue to the AAP Lokpal, assisted by a specially selected team,” the letter said.
In his letter, Admiral Ramdas said the AAP needs to make efforts to address criticisms over its inner-party democracy. In the past, leaders like Shazia Ilmi have quit the party citing lack of inner-party democracy.
“There has been criticism within the party regarding decision-making and inner-party democracy.
“This needs to be further analysed by an independent group who should carry out an internal audit and make suitable recommendations in keeping with the constitution and the high standards of probity and ethics that we have charted for ourselves,” the letter added.
Admiral Ramdas also said that the AAP must make efforts to genuinely become a gender-sensitive party.
“We need to make many efforts in the direction of becoming a genuinely gender-sensitive party which will do far more than pay lip service to women’s empowerment and ensure that we work to improve women’s visibility and participation at all levels.
“I personally find it difficult to defend AAP against accusations of being mainly a ‘boys’ club’, especially when we were not able to have even one woman in our team of ministers! Women’s empowerment and justice has to go deeper and farther than mere security alone,” Admiral Ramdas said.
He also criticised the party for neglecting and taking its volunteers for granted.
After the Lok Sabha debacle, a splinter group called AAP Volunteers’ Vichar Manch (AVAM) was formed, raising issues related to the party. The group was later expelled.
“Volunteers are our lifeline. We neglected and took for granted our volunteers and their commitment, especially after the general elections in 2014.
“This may well have been one of the contributory factors for the emergence of AVAM. We need to learn the right lessons from this experience and put in place robust mechanisms and people to handle this resource,” Admiral Ramdas said.