Aam Aadmi Party's rebel leaders, Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan held a meeting of AAP volunteers to discuss the future of the party on Tuesday, April 14. They announced they were starting a new non-political "movement", while slamming the lack of dialogue within the Arvind Kejriwal-led party.
Yadav also emphasised that they will not be quitting AAP, as the party does not belong to a single person. Bhushan, who had taken an aggressive stance against the AAP leadership suggested there was no place for dialogue in the party. He was referring to the rumours that those who attended the convention would be expelled from the party, as would Yadav and Bhushan, for holding the meeting in the first place.
Speaking at the 'Swaraj Samwad' convention in Gurgaon, Bhusahan said , " Those who raised questions were expelled from top party posts. Today, I heard that we may be expelled for organising this samwad. The message from the top is that if you raise voice against the party, you will be expelled.”
A number of volunteers from around the country made the effort to attend this convention. This suggests the problems that have beset AAP are not limited to one or two people only. There are others who feel the same way as Yadav and Bhushan. The two leaders conducted a vote at the meeting, they questioned whether they should create another party or remain with AAP. They also asked who among the people present trust the current leadership. Only 25.45% of those present thought it would be a good idea to start a new party. Over two thirds of the members felt it makes more sense to remain with AAP. Only a meagre 1.43% said they trust the current leadership.
What's next for Yadav and Bhushan?
Both leaders have made it clear that they are not planning on setting up a new party at the moment. " We need time to prepare, today is not the day for a new party. We will keep working for the people. We will not leave this party, it does not belong to a single person,” Yadav said.
Their plan for a significant non-political movement is troublesome, at best. For a successful movement they need a leader with a huge following among voters. Yadav and Bhushan are both great thinkers and ideologues, but when it comes to grass roots politics, they have no brand value outside of urban Indian drawing rooms.
Starting a splinter group of AAP would most likely run into the same problems the party is facing at the moment, and both Yadav and Bhushan are aware of this. What they hope to do instead, is to change the existing party from within. The trouble with this is, they need the volunteers to put pressure on Kejriwal. However, what they did not anticipate is that Kejriwal has no use of the volunteers anymore. He has turned into a mass leader who can directly communicate with voters.
Kejriwal is not concerned with slogans like internal democracy, samvad , idealism or transparency any more. He is aware that the future of the party depends on the success of his government and the reaction of Delhi voters. The mood of volunteers in Maharashtra or some other state pay no heed to his decisions.
This may be the end of the road for Bhushan, Yadav, and their supporters. Since they were warned against organising a meeting of rebels, it is only a matter of time before they are inevitably expelled from AAP. After which, it will become impossible for them to reform the party or create a splinter group.
Then again maybe it is not the end. They have more than enough volunteers that believe in their ideals, and would be ready to follow them. Yes, it may not be the right time for a new political party, but it might be the time for a movement. A movement much like India Against Corruption (IAC), that galvanised the people and gave them something to believe in.
" The day we manage to show that our movement has stayed true to its ideals, we can make it a political party,” said Bhushan.