Press Trust of India
New Delhi, 12 November
Simmering discontent in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came to the fore today when a party member called a Press conference here to demand more organisational democracy but was shouted down by autorickshaw drivers supporting AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal.
“Anguished” over getting no reply to his open letter to Mr Kejriwal about democracy in party, Rakesh Agarwal, an AAP member and also secretary of an NGO working for autorickshaw drivers in Delhi, had called the Press meet to put forward his three-point charter of demands.
It includes immediate setting up of a team to define the governance agenda, democratise and decentralise party structure by holding internal elections and withdrawal from vote bank politics and abolishing all religion and caste based cells.
But as soon as Mr Agarwal began his conference, around 15-20 autorickshaw drivers, alleging harassment by him and bungling of funds in his NGO, barged in and demanded that he answer their questions.
Mr Agarwal said they were “uninvited” and asked them to leave the venue.
Amid the drama, Mr Agarwal told reporters that it was an attempt by AAP leaders to gag any voice of dissent.
“These people have been sent to ruin my Press conference by some of the AAP leaders who don’t want to hear any dissenting views or about democracy in the party.”
He alleged that AAP does not have any governing agenda and “if the party comes to power, and if they fail to deliver then people will lose faith on such movements for years”.
Also there was a lack of democracy in the party as those holding posts have not been elected but nominated. “I demand that elections should be held and democracy in the party should be restored,” he said, adding there was no need for any cells for Sikhs in the party as it would promote vote bank politics.
Agarwal said he had written an open letter to Kejriwal on the issue but had not received any reply from him, and if “I don’t get any reply by 21 November, I will go on indefinite fast”.
However, he supported Mr Kejriwal and the party on the issue of foreign funding, saying the party has received money from NRIs and it is not illegal.