The rebels in the Aam Aadmi Party have been ambiguous about the formation of a new political outfit so far. While a majority of the volunteers have disapproved of breaking away from the parent organisation, the leaders seem set on playing the waiting game. The Swaraj Abhiyan, a nationwide movement for alternative politics, could well be their instrument for expanding reach and making ground work for the formation of a political party.
Under this campaign, the leaders will tour the entire country and hold ‘Swaraj Samvad’ at state and local levels. The leaders, led by Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, have clarified that ‘Swaraj Abhiyan’ was “neither a political party, nor an NGO”. It will function as a federal unit and on the principles of swaraj, transparency and accountability.
Elaborating on the campaign, Yadav told a press conference on Wednesday, “The overwhelming opinion among the participants at the Swaraj Samvad, which was organised in Gurgaon on Tuesday, was that we should launch a movement for swaraj from within the party. And therefore, Swaraj Abhiyan was formed. Now, mass movements will be launched in the entire country on different issues of people’s concern and message of alternative politics would be disseminated.”
He said ‘Swaraj Yatra’ (tour for self-rule) will be held throughout the country for six months and 30-35 Swaraj Samvad will be organised at states and district levels so that more people can join the movement to strengthen alternative politics. He said the abhiyan would fight for the rights of farmers, women and the common man through “protests and rallies”. “Big as well as local issues faced by the country will be raised and we will fight for it,” he said.
He claimed that Swaraj Samvad will work on principles of social diversity, transparency, collective leadership, zero tolerance on ethical code of conduct, volunteers’ voice and primacy of ideas.
“Swaraj Abhiyan will be completely transparent. Anyone can seek the details of the income and expenditure of the campaign. A code of conduct will also be implemented. The organisation will not be person centric rather it will be run by a collective leadership. He said the voice of volunteers will be heard. Their ideas and planning will be seriously considered in finalising the strategies,” he put forth.
Explaining the structure of the initiative, Yadav said a temporary committee of 49 members has been formed. It will nominate 100 members of steering committee which will look after the campaign in different states and take decisions for next six months.
“A temporary committee of seven people will form a working committee of 10-12 people. It will take three-four months,” he said. The seven-member committee comprises leaders who were expelled or who resigned from the AAP’s political affairs committee (PAC), National Executive, National Council as well as AAP MLA. They are Professor Anand Kumar, Professor Ajit Jha, Advocate Prashant Bhushan, myself, Rakesh Sinha, Christina Samy and Pankaj Pushkar. This committee will decide the campaigns strategy,” Yadav said.
“Once we will have a complete organisational structure, appointments in all committees will be done through voting,” he added.
The entire campaign will be lead by Prof Anad Kumar, Yadav concluded.
When asked if he will resign from primary membership of AAP, Bhushan refused to do so. “We will not leave this party, it does not belong to a single person. The party was formed on principles and we are its founding members. Therefore, those who lost the principles should leave, why should we?” he asked.
Asked about their possible expulsions from AAP, Yadav said, “Let them do whatever they want. We are hearing a new thing these days that even before the meeting, decision are leaked. I request them to read the constitution but they did not do this earlier.”
Explaining the purpose of the campaign, Prashant Bhushan said, “This campaign, Swaraj Abhiyan as we call it, is for the purpose of taking forward the objectives, principles and ideals on which the AAP was founded. It is an independent organisation and not a political party.”
However, the former AAP PAC member did not rule out the possibility of the movement turning into a political party.
“We are not saying that we will not form (a political party) at all. A political party is one which is registered with the Election Commission and contests elections… Later on, it is possible, if we cross two parameters, it can be given the shape of a political party. First, we need to prove that this organisation is being run on the principles of swaraj and, second, we also need to prove that we are grappling with big issues faced by the country. Some months later, or a year later, this will be reviewed and then the decision will be taken,” Bhushan said.
When asked about the same question of their likely expulsion from the party, Bhushan replied quoting from Alice in Wonderland. “There is a quote in Alice in Wonderland, which says ‘let the execution take place, the trial may follow’. This is what is happening in the party.”
Timarpur MLA Pankaj Pushkar, who has openly backed the dissidents in the party, also shared the stage at the first meeting of the newly launched Swaraj Abhiyan and was named as part of its seven member steering committee. Pushkar said, “My personal fate in the party is not important, but the future of Swaraj in the country is.”
Updated Date: Apr 16, 2015 16:06 PM