Paucity of funds, volunteer hands make many question rationale behind going to polls
Pankaj Kumar | May 21, 2014
On a day former Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said that they are ready for fresh elections to the state assembly, and was later sent to judicial custody for refusing to furnish bail bond in a defamation case filed by BJP’s Nagpur MP Nitin Gadkari, it seems all might not be well for the party.
So even as Kejriwal on Wednesday apologised to the people of Delhi for resigning as the chief minister after just 49 days and plans to take this message to people’s doorsteps, it emerges that a sizeable chunk of the party’s MLAs are wary of facing elections within such a short span of time.
According to party insiders, Kejriwal had approached lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung on Tuesday (May 20) and requested him against dissolving the assembly. This was seen by many as a roundabout way of forming the government again with Congress’s help, largely said to be at the insistence of a section of AAP MLAs.
According to party insiders (including senior people, though they all refused to come on record), the top leadership is enthused after getting 3.6 percent more votes from the seven Lok Sabha seats of Delhi – the party polled 32.9 percent votes, up from 29.3 percent polled in December’s assembly polls. But many are questioning whether this would translate into seats.
More importantly, AAP is running short of funds as donations have dipped markedly after the Lok Sabha elections. While the donation amounted an average Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh daily, it has now decreased to Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000.
This, insiders said, prompted Kejriwal’s meeting with Najeeb Jung on May 20.
In a media statement issued on Wednesday, Kejriwal said, “I had written a letter to the hon’ble LG of Delhi yesterday (May 20) requesting him to put on hold the decision to dissolve the Delhi assembly for a week, in case he was considering to do so, since we want to seek the opinion of the people on whether they want a government in Delhi or will they prefer fresh elections.”
Having lost all seven Lok Sabha seats from Delhi, and by big margins at that, the party is now planning to come out of the crisis by expanding its political affairs committee (PAC). It plans to create organisational structure at the grassroots level by forming committees at the block and ward levels, it is elarnt.
But a party MLA (name withheld on request) on Wednesday told Governance Now, “We lack organisational structure as well as funds. The last time (assembly polls) people had high hopes from us but we failed to deliver. How will we approach them again? What will we tell them to vote for?”
Several other MLAS echoed similar sentiments. One MLA went to the extent of questioning the circle of leaders around Kejriwal: “The PAC does not take any decision. All major decisions are taken by Arvind Kejriwal and his four close confidants: Ashish Talwar, Pankaj Gupta, Sanjay Singh and Gopal Rai. But they are mediocre in thinking, planning and vision. That is why they are not open to internal democracy.”
Demanding a revamp of the party by introducing internal democracy, another top functionary said, “There was no transparency in giving tickets to candidates in the Lok Sabha polls. This led to panic among volunteers. The party fielded 434 candidates, of which 14 withdrew before election and 402 lost their deposit.”
While a lack of organisational structure is seen as the biggest cause for a poor poll performance, the party is now facing a serious dearth of committed volunteers, who have till date been AAP’s lifeline.
“Some of the best brains – like CEOS of various reputed companies and the vice-president of the World Bank – had come to assist us to change the political system but they were not attended to,” a senior AAP leader said. “The four leaders around Kejriwal do not let any talent get close to him because they feel their position is threatened.”
Another volunteer who worked during the Delhi assembly elections said, “The top leadership seems to have lost touch with the committed volunteers. The leaders, including Arvind Kejriwal, have become inaccessible; that’s why the party faced a shortage of intelligent, committed and hardworking volunteers in the Lok Sabha polls.”
Several IITians and MBA professionals who had joined the party have deserted with a feeling of being cheated, ignored and left out, the volunteer said.
An office-bearer said the drubbing in Lok Sabha polls have reinvigorated the demand for internal democracy. “Otherwise who will believe that AAP stands for a healthy democracy and good governance? It has become a one-man show; there is no delegation of responsibilities and an office-bearer has to go Arvind to even buy some stationary for the party,” the AAP official said.
According to some AAP office-bearers and volunteers, many felt disgruntled at the allegations of selling tickets for candidature in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Sanjay Singh, who was given charge of UP, and Ajeet Jha, responsible for Bihar, are both facing the allegation of selling tickets in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Many AAP sympathisers are also criticising Kejriwal’s attempt to shift the focus from corruption to communalism in an effort to become a rallying point for anti Modi forces. “He projected himself as a big savior of minorities. The party shifted its strategy from corruption to communalism after failing to govern in Delhi,” another AAP officer-bearer said.
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