On the day the Delhi election results were announced, there were traffic jams in several parts of the city. Such was the euphoria amongst Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supporters that they came out on to the street to celebrate their party’s hard fought victory. This jubilation was an understandable response to the trials and tribulations faced by the party in the whirlwind year that was 2014. However the moment of catharsis and elation did not last too long. Almost a month after the party was elected to power with a mandate previously unseen in Indian electoral history; it finds itself embroiled in a bitter power struggle between some of the leading lights of the party. On a lazy Sunday morning, while most of the city of Delhi was glued to their television screens watching the cricket world cup final, news broke out that AAP had removed the party’s internal Lokpal Admiral Ramdas and Prashant Bhushan had been evicted from his post of chief of the national disciplinary committee. This news came hot on the heels of Yogendra Yadav being expelled a day earlier. Given the controversial events of the past week, the entire media will be happy to quickly play judge, jury and executioner. Predictably Arvind Kejriwal will be labelled a dictator and the Yadav-Bhushan combine hapless victims of one man’s need for control. Except that things may not be so simple.
There is no denying that there are legitimate questions which AAP needs to answer. One of them being, why Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan were not allowed to present their side of the story. The way voting was done in a hurried manner post Kejriwal’s speech raises serious worries about the space accorded to dissenting voices in the party. Be that as it may what the media has not paid much heed to is Kejriwal’s side of the story. Kejriwal had so far kept steadfastly silent on the whole issue perhaps saving his words for the meeting which took place on the weekend. Fuelling a million conspiracy theories online Kejriwal alleged “A faction of AAP had supported Aam Aadmi Volunteer Action Manch(AVAM) for spreading lies against our funding in media.” Kejriwal’s emotionally tinged allegations raise an interesting set of counter questions. Why were Yadav and Bhushan so fixated on getting Kejriwal removed from the post of convenor, given that the post of convenor is largely ceremonial? Were they unhappy with Kejriwal’s sudden prominence in the party? If Yadav and Bhushan really believe in inner party democracy then why do they not stand behind the decision taken by the highest decision-making body of the party? Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan have to answer these questions if they seek to put an end to this bitter civil war within the party. As for Arvind Kejriwal, he was elected to power riding on a huge wave of optimism. He was elected to disrupt the status-quo of Delhi politics and not retain it. Most importantly he was voted to govern a city whose problems never seem to end. It’s time he put the events of the past weeks behind and govern the city of Delhi.