New Delhi: In its preparation for the final assault on senior party leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, the Aam Aadmi Party’s top leadership has launched a covert ‘signature drive’ asking its 67 MLAs to sign ‘voluntarily’ on a two-page letter addressed to ‘Arvind Kejriwal, National Convener, Aam Aadmi Party’, seeking the duo’s removal.
The two-page letter drafted in Hindi (a copy of which is accessed by Firstpost) mentions the charges against the two, which include ‘anti-party activities’, ‘making adverse statements in the media’, ‘conspiracy to tarnish the image of Arvind Kejriwal and remove him’ among others.
The party leadership has reportedly asked the MLAs to put their signatures on a “blank sheet” attached to the said letter. The source of the letter, however, is not the MLAs. There is a visible discontent among the Delhi Secretariat staff due to "a few new appointments" made by the AAP leadership of people who are not government servants, but are associated with the party. "The meeting of MLAs was held on Monday afternoon, where the letter was given to them," a Secretariat source said.
Firstpost spoke to four AAP MLAs, who on condition of anonymity, claimed that they were being compelled by the senior leaders to sign the two-page letter intended to build a consensus on the removal Bhushan and Yadav from the party.
What happened on Monday, 9 March?
According to sources within the AAP, at around 2 pm, the MLAs visited the chamber of the party’s chief strategist Ashish Talwar in Delhi Secretariat (which is on the same floor as the CM’s office) and where they were given the two-page draft addressed to the CM.
“We were asked to sign on a blank sheet, which was appended with the two-page draft in Hindi, addressed to ‘Arvind Kejriwal, National Convener, Aam Aadmi Party’. The letter mentioned the anti-party activities of Bhushan and Yadav and that the MLAs want them to be expelled,” one of the MLAs told Firstpost.
What is the objective of this signature campaign?
“The aim of this signature campaign is to build a background prior to the National Council meeting scheduled to be held on 28 March; so that a motion could be brought against them that would justify the decision taken against these two leaders. Probably, the leadership wants the National Council (NC) to endorse the decision of the National Executive (NE). In fact, the right move would have been that the NC should have endorsed it and asked the NE to take it up,” another MLA said.
Why this move?
“It’s a major problem of personalities. More than Yogendra ji, it’s Prashant Bhushan who made several statements during Delhi election – most of it has appeared in the media. Probably, due to this, the party has decided to expel both of them. The party leadership feels that despite getting such a huge mandate, this kind of anti-party behaviour would tarnish the image of AAP both in Delhi and outside. It’ll also impact AAP prospect in Punjab and Bihar polls,” another MLA remarked.
However, the MLAs strongly feel that the NE has no locus standi to issue an expulsion order, as “its members were not elected but appointed."
AAP’s official response
In response to a questionnaire from Firstpost, the AAP leader and spokesperson Ashutosh in his message said, “I am not aware.”
Meanwhile, four AAP leaders, including deputy CM Manish Sisodia, (others are Gopal Rai, Pankaj Gupta and Sanjay Singh) have issued a joint statement on how the troika – Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav - allegedly tried to “tarnish the party’s image during the Delhi election, planted stories in the media to malign Arvind Kejriwal, worked for the party's defeat during Delhi elections, etc.” (The statement has been posted on AAP’s official website).
Response from Yadav and Bhushan
Despite trying hard, both Bhushan and Yadav couldn’t be reached, Yadav’s office staff said, “He’s in Wardha."
In the meantime Yadav has tweeted, “I welcome the statement by 4 colleagues. Begins the possibility of open, transparent dialogue. Truth shall prevail." Yadav added that he hopes his response on the statement will be duly publicised by the party media. "Hope this statement ends all slander, planting of allegations. Hope no more coercion of party functionaries and Delhi MLAs on this issue.” Is Yogendra Yadav trying for a last minute patch-up?