Bhushan is one of the most reputed and respected lawyers in India. He has been involved in various Public Interest Litigations against various scams, 2G, Coalgate, the CBI
director, 4G, the Reliance Gas robbery, against GM foods, Nuclear Power Plants,
destructive Hydel projects, Section 66A, Tobacco and Gutka, etc. He have spend
the lot of time giving legal and other advice to the AAP and fighting its
cases in court. Even though he is the founder member of AAP, he has never been
interested in any executive posts and his role role in the party and mainly he was a
person who will try and ensure that it remains true to its founding principles.
Open letter written by Shri Prashant Bhushan to Arvind Kejriwal is reproduced
In the National Council meeting held on the 28th of March, in your Convener's
address, instead of giving a review of the party's situation and the path ahead,
you chose to launch an attack on me, Yogendra Ji and my father, making all sorts
of false and inflammatory allegations against us. Your speech incited several
Delhi MLAs- (who were invited despite not being members of the NC) to scream
that we were “gaddars” who should be thrown out, and behave in the manner of
hooligans. Such was the ferocity of the mob of these MLAs and others as they
rushed towards my father, that he felt that he may not get out of this alive.
You did not even allow us to respond to your allegations.
Immediately after your speech, in the middle of shouting and screaming by MLAs
and others, Manish read out a resolution for our removal (without any chair, and
without anyone allowing him to do so). He then proceeded to call for vote by
show of hands without allowing any discussion, forcing us to walk out of what
had clearly become a farce.
It was farcical for many reasons: Many members of the NC had not been invited or
allowed to attend; more than half the people inside the meeting hall were non
members, which included MLAs, district and State conveners of 4 states,
volunteers and bouncers; there was no orderly conduct of the proceedings for
many reasons, including the hooliganism displayed by many people there; no
independent videography was allowed, the party's lokpal was not allowed, etc.
What has happened subsequent to the 28th however, has taken the farce to a level
where it seems as if a Stalinist purge is taking place in the party. The party's
internal Lokpal, a person of immense stature and independence, has been removed
unconstitutionally, merely because he expressed his wish to attend the National
Council meeting and was seen to be fair; other members of the National Executive
are being suspended, again unconstitutionally, only because they had attended a
press conference held by us after the hooliganism in the National Council
Thereafter, you have ordered the release of a carefully edited version of your
speech in the National Council meeting, containing various false charges against
us, and carefully editing out the portions showing the hooliganism of the mob.
It is in such circumstances that I am having to write this open letter to you.
In order to respond to your charges, I would need to go
back a bit to see where my serious differences started with you. If you will
remember, my differences started after the Lok Sabha elections, when a series of
things happened, which began to show two serious defects in your character and
personality. Firstly, you wanted to push through your decisions at any cost in
the party, despite the majority of the PAC or the National Executive disagreeing
with you. This included decisions that would have undoubtedly been very harmful
for the party and against public interest. And secondly, you were willing to use
some very highly unethical and even criminal means to achieve your ends.
After the Lok Sabha elections, you felt that the party was finished, and could
only be revived if it were able to form the government again in Delhi. So
immediately after the elections, you started talking to the Congress party for
taking its support again to form the government in Delhi. When news of this came
out, a large number of important people in the party including Prithvi Reddy,
Mayank Gandhi and Anjali Damania called me up saying this would be disastrous,
and if this happens, they would have to quit the party. I was in Shimla at that
time, I called you up, and I said that you should not go ahead with this unless
there is a proper discussion in the Political Action Committee (PAC).
I immediately came back and we had a meeting of the PAC at your residence. And
at that meeting, a majority of the members – 5:4 – felt that we should not go
ahead with forming the government with Congress’ support. I had pointed out that
this would seem extremely opportunistic, since there was no logical reason for
us to change our publicly stated position. I also added that such a government
would not last, as the Congress will withdraw support soon, and thereafter, for
us to revive the party would become even more difficult.
Instead of abiding by the majority decision, you said that while that may be the
majority view, as the Convener of the party, you have the right to take the
final decision, and that you would go ahead with seeking Congress’ support. At
that point, I had a verbal argument with you. I said the party can’t be run in
this manner, and it has to be run by some democratic means. So it was decided to
refer this issue to the National Executive which had many more people. This
reference was made by email, and people were expected to vote by next morning.
By next morning, again a majority of people opposed this decision in the
National Executive and yet, a letter was secretly sent by you to the Lieutenant
Governor of Delhi saying that he should not dissolve the Assembly for another
week because AAP wants to seek the opinion of the people on whether to form the
Immediately after the letter came out, Congress said they were not ready to
support AAP and that left us with egg on our face with the result that you had
to backtrack the next day and apologize. But despite that, the attempt to form
the government with Congress’ support or with the support of breakaway MLAs from
the Congress continued, as is clear from the sting tape of Rajesh Garg which
shows you were wanting to form the government with the support of those MLAs
whom you had yourself accused of having being bought over by the BJP for Rs 4
crore each. How could you even think of forming a government with the support of
such people! And this went on till as late as November, just before the
dissolution of the Assembly. In November you called Nikhil Dey and asked him to
speak to Rahul Gandhi to convince him to get the Congress party to support. But
Nikhil told you that he can’t talk to Rahul Gandhi on this issue.
Can you deny any of these facts? All this, showed your willingness to go against
majority opinion, break all democratic rules of the party, and seek unethical
support of MLAs whom you yourself had accused of being corrupt, all in the
pursuit of power at any cost.
Then came the issue of communal posters. A poster accusing the Muslim MLAs of
the Congress as being traitors to their religion was got published by Dilip
Pandey under your instructions, for which the police arrested Dilip Pandey. At
that stage, the party got Amanatullah Khan to send a letter to the police saying
that he had got this poster printed, and it was not the party. At the time you
yourself tweeted that why is the police arresting Dilip Pandey when they should
be arresting Amanatullah Khan. Yet within a week, he was made in charge of the
Okhla constituency by the party, promised a ticket and eventually given one! Are
such means not unethical?
Then came the issue of AVAM or Aam Aadmi Volunteer Action
Manch, which was a group of volunteers who wanted their voices heard in the
party. Because this was threatening to brew into a rebellion amongst volunteers
who felt that they were being used only like slave labour, and because you felt
that it was necessary to crush this, it appears that the party got an SMS sent
in the name of AVAM, saying that volunteers should join the BJP – the idea was
to suggest that AVAM had become an agent of the BJP, though the SMS was
fabricated by the party itself in the name of AVAM. And using this, you
announced in a Google Hangout that these people had become traitors because of
that SMS. And on that basis, Karan Singh, who was the leader of AVAM, was
suspended and removed from the party. He appealed to the national disciplinary
committee, which I was heading, and he said ‘I had been saying that this is not
sent by me, please have this investigated’. So I asked you and Dilip Pandey and
others to get this investigated, but you steadfastly refused.
Eventually, Karan Singh had to lodge an FIR, and the police investigated the
matter and it was found that a volunteer of the party, not of AVAM, called
Deepak Chaudhary, created this identity in the name of AAVAAM and used that to
send that SMS. You should know Arvind, that impersonating an organisation or
persons in order to defame them, is a serious criminal offence. Unfortunately
young volunteers in the party under your tutelage are being taught that use of
such means is OK in politics, since any means used to defeat a “Bigger evil” is
Then came the issue of whether the party should contest Assembly elections in
Haryana and Maharashtra. Again the matter was put to the National Executive by
email, and the majority – 15 is to 4 – said that that should be left to state
units to decide in accordance with our principle of Swaraj. But you did not
allow that decision to be implemented. And eventually, it was rendered in
fructuous, because elections came too close and finally in that National
Executive meet in Sangrur it was decided that there’s no point, and one should
forget about contesting those elections.
When the Delhi elections were announced and campaigning started, you instructed
volunteers to start a campaign ‘Modi for PM, Kejriwal for CM’. I said this is
totally unprincipled. It means that our party has gone down on its knees before
Modi at a time when it was positioning itself as the main opposition to Modi.
When the process of candidate selection for the Delhi Assembly election of 2015
started, I found there was no transparency. Contrary to earlier practice, we
were not posting candidates’ names on the website. Even the PAC, which was meant
to approve the candidate, was not being sent the bio-data or names of the
candidates in advance to enable us to check the records of the candidates. In
the second meeting of the PAC to discuss candidate selection, because I had
received complaints about two of the candidates who were being proposed in that
meeting, I pointed this out. You got very angry saying, “Why do you think we
will be selecting crooked people?” I said that is not the point – we need to
have some transparency and due diligence. That led to an argument between you
and me, and I walked out of that meeting and wrote an email on November 27, that
I cannot be a rubber stamp for non-transparent and questionable selection of
candidates. That email is now in the public domain.
After that, in the next list, again there were at least four questionable
candidates among the 10 names proposed. Yogendra Yadav and I wrote a letter to
the PAC on 10th December, detailing the objections against these four and
pointing out that this time, the process of candidate selection was very
different from the last time. This time, we were giving tickets to a large
number of political entrepreneurs who had joined the party only for opportunism,
who had jumped ship from Congress, BJP or BSP at the last moment, who had no
ideological commitment to our party, had no record of public service, and whose
sources of wealth weren’t explained.
Some of them were people against whom our party had itself complained that they
were distributing money or liquor or had beaten up our volunteers. One of them
(our initial choice from Wazirpur), went back to the BJP within 4 hours of us
announcing his candidature. Your initial choice for the Mehrauli seat, Gandas,
had to be dropped at the last moment only because his photographs were
circulated with him showing off, with a glass of liquor in one hand and a
revolver in the other. Yet, while he was dropped, his brother was given the
ticket. Eventually, even he had to be changed because our Lokpal, Admiral Ramdas
gave a strong report against him.
Thereafter, when we sent that letter, AAP stopped having meetings of the PAC or
sending names for the approval of the PAC, and started announcing names on their
own. When all this happened, I said “Now enough is enough. If this does not
stop, and if there is no credible scrutiny of these candidates, I will have to
resign from the party and make public the reasons for my resignation.” On that,
an emergency meeting was called at my residence on January 4, by Yogendra Yadav,
Prithvi Reddy etc which had 16-17 people from all over the country, important
functionaries of the party. All of them felt that the party's campaign would be
ruined if I resigned at that stage.
In that meeting I said, “Look, all these kinds of compromises are being made,
various ethical corners are being cut and now you are selecting these kind of
candidates without proper transparency or scrutiny. If you go with these kinds
of candidates, then even if you win, the further compromises that you will have
to make, will be such that they will completely destroy the USP of the party,
which is of being a clean, transparent party, wedded to alternative politics.
And instead of winning by using these kinds of candidates, it would be better to
lose the elections by going with clean and honourable candidates”. That
statement is being twisted around to claim that I said that I wanted the party
I had said that rather than winning by these kinds of candidates and means, it’s
better to go with honourable candidates and run the risk of a possible loss.
Because winning with these kinds of candidates and means destroys the founding
principles of the party in the short run, and will destroy the party itself in
the long run.
If I had wanted the party to lose the elections, I would have resigned and gone
public with my reasons at that very time. If Yogendra Yadav wanted the party to
lose, he would not have convened that meeting and stopped me from going public.
Instead, he worked his heart out for this campaign, defended the party on
innumerable occasions on TV. And yet you have the temerity to accuse even him,
along with me, of working for the defeat of the party!
At the end of that meeting, an arrangement was worked out with your express
consent, that: We would immediately refer all the complaints against candidates
who had been selected to the Lokpal of the party and his decision would be
final. And the rest of the issues of institutional reforms about transparency in
the party, accountability, swaraj, inner party democracy – those issues will be
taken up immediately after the elections. So those complaints against 12
candidates were referred to the Lokpal. In the 4 days that he had to do this
exercise, he recommended the removal of two against whom there was clear
evidence, recommended the issuance of warnings against six against whom there
was some evidence, and allowed four to continue. Two were thus removed.
But the other issue of institutional reforms, which was agreed to be taken up
within two days of the election results, were not discussed. Instead, the
National Executive meeting of January 26, which you chose not to attend,
started with Vishwas announcing your resignation and a no holds barred attack on
Yogendra Yadav and myself by members of your coterie. The message conveyed by
them on your behalf was clear: That the price for your continuing as Convener
was our removal from the PAC and NE. I then responded and pointed out the things
I have mentioned above, and the issues of institutional reforms, but those were
not discussed. The only issue that was discussed that day was whether you should
continue as Convener.
We all agreed that you should continue, but thereafter, some people went to your
residence to meet you, and you made it clear that it’s either you or us, and
that we have to be removed. And therefore, that is what happened in the next
meeting which was held on March 4.
A charge that is made against me is that I did not campaign for the party during
this election. I had said that I can’t campaign for many of these candidates,
and given the manner in which these candidates had been selected, I was willing
to campaign only for those candidates about whom I was fairly certain that they
were the kind of people who would take the ideology of clean politics forward
and work in public interest if they win. I had in fact given a list of five
people that I thought were decent. But the party did not send me any programme
for addressing public meetings. I therefore went for Pankaj Pushkar's public
meetings who had personally invited me. Gopal Rai is falsely stating that I
backed out of his meeting which I had agreed to. In fact, on that day when he
called me for his meeting, I was in Calicut where I had addressed a party
meeting and a press conference in which I had reiterated that Kiran Bedi was not
an appropriate choice for the post of CM.
The other charge made against me is that I stopped people from donating to AAP.
When other people asked me whether they should donate etc, I’d said, “Look, you
should donate to those candidates who appear to be decent and honest to you”.
You and your coterie have made the same charge against my sister Shalini Gupta.
She also said the same thing that I had said to a closed circle of friends. In
fact she strenuously encouraged the Global group to donate to deserving
candidates, which is why several candidates got so much funds from NRIs.
In your speech you have given a fanciful and utterly false account of how I was
responsible for sending you to jail. The truth is that you had publicly stated
that you would ‘rather go to jail, than give bail’, in the Gadkari defamation
case, and when the matter came up for hearing, the judge herself explained to
you what the meaning of a 'personal bail bond' was. You asked me if the judge's
explanation was accurate, to which I replied in the affirmative. And then you
decided that in the interest of your's, and the party's public image, you should
refuse to furnish the personal bond and go to jail. My father and I however
defended your decision in court and in public, and said that it highlighted an
important public issue of the unnecessary requirement of asking for
bail/personal bail bonds in such cases. In fact both of us spent several hours
to meet you in jail, to explain the options and to persuade you to fill the bond
after you had made your point.
Your coteries have also accused my father, my sister and myself of trying to
capture the party. Arvind, you know very well that none of us have even wanted
any executive positions or tickets for ourselves or any friends or family
members. We have only tried to contribute and help in every way that we could to
see the party grow into a powerful and credible vehicle for alternative politics
in the country. My father, apart from donating more than 2 crores as seed money
to the party, has spent an enormous amount of time in giving selfless advice,
legal and otherwise to the party. He played a major role in the draft of the Jan
Lokpal bill. He worked for the well being of the party with his “tan, man and
dhan”. Yes, when he felt that you, for various reasons were not the right person
to lead the party organisation, he frankly told you so. Apart from the reasons
of ethical compromises mentioned above, he also saw that you were violating the
constitution and rules of the party repeatedly, not allowing any working
structure of the party organisation to be created (other than a coterie), and
were not interested in formulating the policies of the party.
For two years, the elaborate reports of the 34 policy committees that we had set
up, have been gathering dust because you haven't found the time or have the
inclination to look at those reports and apply your mind to them. You accuse my
father of having stated that you were his third choice for CM after Kiran Bedi
and Ajay Maken. That was his honest view after seeing all the shortcomings in
your character that he had been observing. I had immediately publicly disagreed
with his opinion, but in the light of what has transpired subsequently,
particularly the stage managed lumpenism that you got unleashed in the NC
meeting, I regretfully wonder if he was right.
My sister Shalini Gupta, as well as many other highly qualified persons, left
their lucrative jobs abroad to help you build credible and efficient systems
which would have proper cells and expertise so that it could function as a world
class organisation. On repeated occasions you had yourself asked Shalini to give
up her job for the sake of the country and said that her role as Organization
Development Advisor was only an advisory role and not a formal position with any
power in the party as discussed in the PAC before she was appointed. However it
became clear over time that you did not want any professional advice in this
matter. Instead you asked Ashutosh who has no such professional expertise to
come up with an alternative plan to make each cell of the party organisation an
appendage to your coterie and accountable only to you. My sister worked day and
night for the party and mobilized the support of Indians all across the world
that contributed so much to the success of the party. One third of all the
donations to the party came from NRIs.
It is true Arvind that I have not contributed as much as you for the party. I
have not fasted, nor gone to jail. I have been mostly involved in my various
PILs against various scams, 2G, Coalgate, the CBI director, 4G, the Reliance Gas
robbery, against GM foods, Nuclear Power Plants, destructive Hydel projects,
Section 66A, Tobacco and Gutka, etc. I have spent the rest of my time giving
legal and other advice to the party and fighting its cases in court. I have
never been interested in any executive posts and I have seen my role in the
party mainly as a person who will try and ensure that it remains true to its
founding principles. And it is for this reason that I have raised my voice
whenever I have found it to be slipping from its path.
It is in this spirit that I have been telling you that you need to have a
majority of independent and credible voices in the decision making bodies of the
party particularly the PAC and the NE, and people who have the spine to stand up
to you and tell you when you are wrong. And for this, my family and I are being
seen as troublemakers who want to destroy the party! Arvind, you must realise
that you cannot go very far with a party of just yesmen. The party would
certainly be destroyed if you try and do that, but even you cannot go very far
with this kind of culture that you are trying to breed in the party.
Arvind, this party was founded with a lot of idealism by thousands of people,
especially young people, who came out and spent a lot of their time, effort,
energy, money, sweat and blood in order to create a vehicle for alternative
politics, in order to create a party that would practice clean and transparent
politics. But unfortunately, all those principles are being betrayed by you and
your coterie, who are currently in control of the party. And it has become a
supremo-oriented, high-command culture kind of party.
After winning the Delhi elections with such a thumping majority, when you have
such good fortune, you should be showing your best qualities to the people of
this country. But unfortunately, your worst qualities have emerged now. The
removal of the Lokpal, us and others who questioned the manner of our removal,
reminds one of Stalin's purge of dissenters in the Communist party of Russia.
You should read Orwell's Animal Farm to see the parallels between Stalin's
Russia and what is happening in our party today. God and history will not
forgive what you are doing to the party.
You feel that you can rectify everything by running the Delhi government well in
the 5 years that you have. You think that if you deliver on governance, people
will forget what you have done to the party. I wish you well in that endeavour.
Even traditional political parties like Congress, BJP have done some governance.
But the dream that we started with for clean and principled politics and
corruption free governance was much much bigger. The fear that I have, is that
after how you have behaved and the character traits that you have showed, this
dream of clean and principled politics that the Aam Aadmi party was founded on
may well turn into a nightmare. But still, I wish you well.
Goodbye and good luck,
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