AAP can easily be termed as one of the most successful crowd-funded start-ups ever. The political party that started out from the massively popular India Against Corruption movement went on to become the poster boy of the common man in India. They gained substantial ground in the Delhi Elections held in December 2013, formed the government and resigned in 49 days. They suffered setbacks in the General Elections in 2014 and eventually swept the Delhi Elections once again in 2015.
Taking the Delhi win as a cue to make amends for their past mistakes, AAP seems set to fulfil claims made during the election campaign. But, not all is well in the party which was always mired in internal issues, defection and controversies. In the past, the party has emerged stronger from the issues it faced. However, this time, such a possibility appears to be highly diminished.
In the past, Shazia Ilmi and Kiran Bedi left the party and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. Their defections didn’t create a major impact against AAP. One could even argue that it benefitted AAP at the time of Delhi Elections in 2015. Recently, the ouster of founding members Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav is turning out to be a much bigger headache for AAP and the warring factions within the party are threatening its very stability. They have been removed from the key National Executive team of 21 members. In an ironic twist, the party, which claims to promote democracy and Swaraj, sacked Admiral Ramdass, the internal lokpal. The internal lokpal or the disciplinary committee has been reconstituted by a 3 member team led by Dinesh Waghela with Asish Khetan and Pankaj Gupta, all Kejriwal loyalists.
The two leaders, Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav have been accused of anti-party activities and with their removal from the key panel, the path to suspension and/or expulsion has been cleared. Both leaders are claiming to have pushed for higher transparency within the party but were voted out of the National Executive by 247-8 votes signalling the end of the nearly a month long infighting with Arvind Kejriwal. The AAP released the official video of Kejriwal’s speech at the National Council meeting where he spoke about the alleged anti-party activities and cheating by the accused leaders. Adding to the flurry of party exits, famous activist Medha Patkar also resigned as a primary member of the Aam Aadmi Party citing the ongoing internal turbulence at Delhi as the reason.
The speech by Arvind Kejriwal can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efn4QWGk7fA
At a time where key decisions are about to be made by the party, including the Delhi government formation and execution, such exits and infighting are only adding to doubts cast on the party. In the past, the party came across as impulsive when the government they formed at Delhi resigned in 49 days. With internal issues plaguing it now, the party is yet to implement any changes it promised in its election manifesto in Delhi. Abraham Lincoln once said that the test of fire makes the finest of steel. AAP most certainly is facing major trials which could make or break the party. It still remains to be seen how AAP comes out of this and if it will set a new trend in Indian politics.