Dissident leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan were sacked from the National Executive of the AAP, a party that had stormed to power in Delhi last month.
Yadav’s supporters Anand Kumar and Ajit Jha were also removed from the Aam Aadmi Party’s 21-member National Executive, the party’s highest executive body that coordinates its activities at the national level.
“Democracy has been murdered in the National Council meeting,” said a visibly miffed Yadav after coming out of the meeting. Bhushan said people who disagreed with Kejriwal were beaten up and thrown out of the meeting.
Yadav and Prashant Bhushan had branded Kejriwal an autocrat surrounded by “yes men” and accused him of deviating from the party’s ideals. The AAP, in turn, had accused them of having tried to sabotage the party in the run up to the Delhi polls last month which it won handsomely.
Nearly 300 people were present in the meeting where Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia moved the resolution to oust Yadav and Bhushan. The resolution was passed, bringing the curtains down for the two founder members of the party that was born in 2012.
A large number of AAP activists had turned up at the meeting venue. Holding placards against Yadav and Bhushan, volunteers said that they were present for the interest of the party.
“Please stay united,” read a placard. Another one read: “We are with you Arvind Kejriwal.”
AAP national secretary Pankaj Gupta said 247 members had voted in favour of the proposal to remove the four members from the National Executive. He said only eight people opposed it while two gave their dissent in writing. Fifty-four members expressed no view, he said.
Yadav had earlier claimed there was no proper voting for taking the decision of ousting them.
“This is murder of democracy… There was no distinction between members and invitees. Manish Sisodia announced they have a petition signed by 160 people… There was no voting, no discussion,” said Yadav, a psephologist.
He added: “There were many people who opposed it, they were not even given the chance. It is a total mockery of democracy.”
Bhushan, a noted Supreme Court lawyer, claimed the AAP meeting was scripted. “Everything happened there in a planned manner. It seems that everything was scripted,” Bhushan said.
AAP member Sanjay Singh denied that anyone was beaten up during the meeting. “No violence had taken place. No one was hit or injured,” he told media after the meeting.
Yadav and Bhushan had five demands — transparency in the AAP, autonomy for local units, a Lokpal probe into graft charges against party members, AAP should come within the ambit of the RTI, and an end to secret ballot during election to key posts.
Ever since the AAP came to power in the national capital by winning 67 of its 70 assembly seats, the party has been embroiled in an internal crisis that has pitted Bhushan and Yadav against Kejriwal, the party’s best known face.
Anand Kumar, a Jawaharlal Nehru University professor who was also ousted, however said they will not leave the party.
Giving his account of the events, he said: “Kejriwal said we caused trouble in the elections, and asked members to decide whether we should be ousted. But they did not let us speak.”
“We are not out of the party. We will neither leave nor break the party. This is a party of the workers,” he said.
They also said one of Yadav’s supporter was injured in the fracas.