Is AAP in crisis?
You know about the decision of the National Executive yesterday to remove me and Yogendra Yadav from the PAC on the ground that we have expressed no confidence in the convenor [Arvind Kejriwal], the PAC as well as the Delhi Election Committee. It is a matter of record.
We have raised some structural issues regarding reforms that are required in the party which include issues of transparency, accountability in a party democracy and swaraj—all founding principles of the party. Rather than address these issues, unfortunately the discussion has veered around to whether the two of us should remain in the PAC.
Is this to say that Arvind Kejriwal has moved away from these principles?
I don’t want to get into that. I think the issues that we have raised have now come in the public domain, which are a matter of record.
Many people may think that with the party having done so well in Delhi elections any deviation from core principles should be forgiven?
We are just raising the voice of a large number of volunteers, supporters and well wishers that the party needs to remain firm on its founding ideals and principles and we have pointed out what are the kind of reforms that are required to try andd ensure that.
What are the reforms required?
Firstly, that the meetings of the PAC and the NE should be regularly held. That decisions and minuets of the meetings should be duly recorded. That there must be some method for taking on board the views of volunteers. That the state units should be free to decide whether they should contest elections of the local bodies etc. while Parliament and Assembly elections can be decided by the national unit. That the Lok Pal and the Disciplinary panels should be properly functional, their decisions duly recorded and executed. That the PAC and the NE be made more representative.
We know you had some reservation about the selection of candidates in Delhi election. Is that the reason you were not seen campaigning for the party?
I was busy in the Courts. But it is true I did not want to campaign for many of the candidates that were selected about whom I had reservations.
Were your reservations not taken on board?
They were addressed by the internal AAP Lok Pal to the best of his ability in a limited time.
During the campaign your father and patron of the party Shanti Bhushanji praised BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi which many felt was damaging to the party?
You see, those were his personal views and I disagreed with them. I believe he should not have said that especially just prior to elections. But he has his own views. I cannot control his views.
What do you attribute the party’s stunning victory to?
There were many reasons for the party’s landslide victory. One of them was that there was considerable disenchantment that had grown up against the BJP and the performance of their central government. Second was that there was resentment in the BJP cadre about the take over of that party by outsiders like Amit Shah and Narendra Modi. There was also resentment against Kiran Bedi. But more than that there was a lot of hope and expectation from the AAP.
You have never wanted to contest elections?
No. My first calling is public interest cases in the Supreme Court. I never contested nor recommended any candidate. I was never involved in candidate selection this time except when matters came to the PAC.
It looks like there is a conflict of two streams of thought in the party. Mr. Kejriwal would like to first develop Delhi as an exemplary model of governance while Yogendra Yadav would like to take off and expand base all over the country to present an alternative politics? What is your view?
The party was formed to change the nature of politics in this country and to bring about important national reforms such as the National Lokpal Bill, Swaraj Bill. Lakhs of people came together from every part of the country and the world to found this party. Therefore it cannot be seen as a Delhi-centric party. It is absolutely important that the party spreads all over the country and is active all over. Of course whether to contest elections, when to contest elections are matters to be decided on various factors including preparedness of the party to contest.
There is speculation about whether you will go in for contesting polls in Bihar and later Punjab where the party great potential?
Certainly we should contest Assembly elections in Punjab.
Is there a difference with Arvind Kejriwal on contesting in Punjab?
No I think he doesn’t disagree with contesting elections in Punjab.
Is the party ready to spread its wings with him as the Convenor?
Arvind [Kejriwal] is the main leader of the party and therefore the national executive had unanimously decided that he should continue as the Convenor even after becoming Chief Minister of Delhi. However, it is important to allow other people to take charge of affairs of the party in other parts of the country for day to day affairs. Mission Vistaar team needs to be fully empowered to take decisions regarding state units.
Do you feel the NE decision somewhat hurt the party’s image?
Yes I think so because most of the volunteers and supporters wanted to see the party remain united and the decision to remove us from the PAC is being seen as a break of unity in party. Therefore lot of supporters and workers are unhappy with this decision.
How do you see your future in AAP?
My role in the party has been primarily that of somebody who tries to ensure that the party does not stray away much from its founding principles and ideals and also as a legal adviser etc. to the party and for raising important policy issues in the country through the party. I will try to continue to play that role to the extent I can.
How do you see the future of AAP?
The future of AAP is bright since it has come to represent the hopes and aspirations of almost all idealistic people in the country who want to see a different kind of politics and political culture in this country. The lakhs of people on whose idealism and the blood and sweat this party was formed will not allow that dream to die.
Most were thinking this party will give alternative politics to the country, but with what is happening, it is in danger of becoming a run-of-the-mill party?
In any new party, these kinds of problems can happen but in our kind of party we have to quickly set them right. Any thing that has gone wrong or any sort of derailment needs to be quickly addressed so that the party is brought back on its rails and that is what I have been trying to do.
Is there substance in the charge that Arvind Kejriwal is surrounded by a coterie? I have repeatedly told Arvind that though he has many admirable qualities and his political judgments are usually correct, yet on occasions they can be wrong and that it is necessary to broad base the decision making structure within the party and have more people in them who have independent views and can stand up and differ with him.