AAP PAC without Bhushan, Yadav: Can Kejriwal make up for the exit of the intellectuals?

The latest developments have left the volunteers thinking whether the party is sacrificing its intellectual quotient – its unique quality - for in-house point-scoring.

Debobrat Ghose March 07, 2015 11:35:52 IST
AAP PAC without Bhushan, Yadav: Can Kejriwal make up for the exit of the intellectuals?

Arvind Kejriwal and his loyalists may have won the battle against Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, but that by no way means the war within the Aam Aadmi Party is over. While volunteers, the mainstay of the party, realize it is going to be a long-drawn affair till order settles in, they are worried about the disdain with which intellectuals in the party are being handled.

A massive number of youth and members of the middle class were drawn to the party because of the intellectual clarity and honesty it offered. Its articulate public faces such as Yadav had a big role in convincing them that the AAP was no run-of-the mill political entity. While Kejriwal touched upon several mundane, everyday matters, the intellectuals joined the dots to draw the big picture and put it in the framework of an ideology.

The latest developments have left the volunteers thinking whether the party is sacrificing its intellectual quotient – its unique quality - for in-house point-scoring.

A case in point is former AAP MLA Harish Khanna, a Delhi University professor, who opted out of the 2015 assembly election. He had won the Timarpur assembly seat in North Delhi on an AAP ticket in the 2013 election. He refused to contest in 2015 citing “diminishing democratic nature” of the party.

AAP PAC without Bhushan Yadav Can Kejriwal make up for the exit of the intellectuals

Yogendra Yadav. IBN Live.

Khanna’s decision was symptomatic of a bigger problem that finally found spotlight with the Prashant Bhushan-Yogendra Yadav episode.

“The decision to remove Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav from the PAC of AAP has hurt the feelings of several AAP supporters and volunteers. They have been the backbone and ideologues of AAP. This will harm the party's future and it gives a negative message that this party has no respect for democratic and rational thinking,” says Khanna, who’s also secretary, Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA).

He reminisces, “Presence of people like Bhushan, Yadav, Prof Anand Kumar, etc in AAP drew me towards the party and I joined it. Later, when the party asked me, I contested the election and won. Neither I ever aspired to become a minister, nor did I ask for any post. It was the AAP’s promise to provide an alternative, clean politics drew us there, but gradually we realized that the commitment made to the public was fading. It had started functioning like any other party and I decided not to contest for the second time, despite knowing I would win.”

Now, with 67 MLAs in its pocket in the 70-member Vidhan Sabha, it is easy for the party’s top leadership to strategically ensure the exit of AAP’s intellectual faces.

“Prof Khanna was the only MLA in 2014 who raised questions unlike others. Now, the AAP has adopted the autocratic style of functioning. One can’t ask questions and only the ‘Yes man’ will survive. The intellectual climate and democratic culture on which the party was founded, is gradually diminishing. It seems real intellectuals are posing insecurity to Arvind Kejriwal,” says Arun Kumar, Professor of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

He cautions, “Days ahead, problems will be more, because lot of compromises have been made on winnability. These will boomerang.”

Many who are close to AAP feel that members like Mayank Gandhi and, academicians like Ajit Jha, Rakesh Sinha, etc who voted in favour of Bhushan and Yadav at National Executive might face a similar outcome. And, if the party has to survive in the long-run, the AAP leadership instead of curbing the voice of dissent, should address it democratically.

“AAP has to think about the internal voice of dissent. It happened earlier too, and lot of important faces left. Struggle is going on inside the party on several issues like Lokpal, election funding, etc. The AAP will lose out, if dissent continues,” remarks social scientist, Shiv Visvanathan.

Adds Surajit Dasgupta, former member, AAP’s National Council and currently, National Affairs editor, Swarajya, “Since AAP has got an over-whelming majority, there’s no immediate danger to the government. But soon the people will question the party about its functioning and performance. The March 4 episode will create an adverse impact on the educated middle class.”

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