"Not even the king has the right to subordinate the interests of the state to his personal sympathies or antipathies."
What was true in the time of the great Bismarck is true even today. With a heavy heart, the Aam Admi Party had to take the hard decision of expelling four senior members of the party for anti-party activities. Yes, Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav, Anand Kumar and Ajit Jha were shown the door.
It was a tough decision, but it was inevitable, especially after their so-called Swaraj Samvad where they circulated a questionnaire in which the third question asked if volunteers wished to form a new political party. Their argument was that as simple volunteers they had the right to criticize the policies of the party, and were allowed to do so by the party constitution. What they have failed to understand is that the party constitution talks about criticism, not the right to hold a referendum to break a party and explore the possibility of forming another one. They want the whole world to believe that it was not an act of indiscipline, but an expression of Swaraj.
Exploring the possibility of forming another party is an anti-party activity and no party or organisation will ever permit it, however democratic it might be. Even the Indian constitution has employed the concept of reasonable restriction in the exercise of the freedom of the expression. Freedom cannot be construed as a license to say anything at anytime. Each one's freedom is defined by respecting the freedom of others who have been granted the same right by the same constitution. AAP has to survive to propel the movement to change the rotten system. This was an attempt to kill the party, which was the result of the blood and sweat of thousands of AAP volunteers, and which has become the symbol of hopes and aspirations of millions.
In the same column a few weeks ago, in my letters to Prashant and Yogendra, I had underlined their efforts to ensure the party's defeat in the assembly elections. Despite it all, the party registered a historic mandate. They talked about the erosion of inner party democracy under Arvind's leadership. They tried to project themselves as the ethical warriors of the party. But unfortunately, the people of Delhi had a different viewpoint. They gave AAP a victory which will always be remembered in Indian political history; winning 67 seats out of 70 was an electoral hurricane which many political pundits had failed to predict.
But the whole world has witnessed the unmasking of their undemocratic face. Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav (PB/YY) had talked about the sanctity of the processes and institutions. They claimed that the party has been slowly developing a personality cult around Arvind which in their opinion was an anti-AAP premise. But the same gentlemen have shown scant regard for the party institutions. They missed no opportunity to discredit and insult the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) because it refused to toe their political line. In the PAC, they were in a minority. When the National Executive (NE) decided to remove them from the membership of the PAC with a majority decision, they left no stone unturned to discredit that also. After the meeting where the above decision was taken, it was decided by the NE that no member would appear in media including social media; it took them just a few hours to violate the unanimous decision of the NE.
They were very enthusiastic about the meeting of the National Council (NC). They were confident of their victory and that they would get the decision of their removal revoked, but when they realized they were in a very poor minority, they enacted a drama at the venue, walked out of the meeting and levelled all kinds of charges. A massive majority decided to go against them and expel them from the NE. And when their matter was referred to Disciplinary Committee (DC), they once again hurled accusations against two of its members. It was an attempt to unsettle the functioning of the DC; it was an attempt to terrorize members of the DC; it was an attempt to discredit another institution of the party. But the DC stood resolute and united and decided to take punitive action against them and expose their game of double speak. If they had any democratic bone in their body, if they had any respect for the process and institution, they would have accepted the decision of the NE and NC humbly, howsoever flawed it may have been in their opinion. Their action proves the fact that they were never serious about their talk of internal democracy. Theirs was a clever ploy to capture the party and replace Arvind with Yogendra Yadav. It was part of a conspiracy to engineer a coup.
Their desperation can be gauged by the frontal attack on Ashish Khetan. He was subjected to the most humiliating accusations by Prashant Bhushan. It shows their ruthlessness and single minded pursuit. In response to the show cause notice issued to them by the DC, Prashant wrote that Ashish was party to paid news and he had filed a story in Tehelka Magazine in 2011 to favour Essar Company for a few crores. This was the same Ashish Khetan who they had described at a PAC meeting as the brightest journalist in the country.
Prashant and Ashish worked closely with each other for more than ten years. It was Ashish who handed over the Nira Radia tapes to Prashant, which gave a new lease of life to his PIL in the 2G case - his petition had been lying dormant for many years. It was also Ashish Khetan's report which became the basis for Prashant's PIL in the coal scam. Prashant did a cut and paste job from Ashish's report and filed his petition in the Supreme Court. Ashish has an impeccable record as a journalist and even his adversaries can vouch for his honesty.
Today, I am reminded of the statement made by American president John F Kennedy in 1961 - "to pay any price, bear any burden" to ensure the success of liberty. AAP's battle for clean politics and alternate model of governance will not come cheap. Party and individuals will have "to pay any price and have to bear any burden." And in this quest, the party interest has to be supreme and every other interest has to be subordinate to that cause.
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