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To be AAP or not to be

It is a story of those who think that AAP has lost its core principles and about those who want to stick to it, despite being disillusioned. Patriot spoke with two AAP MLAs who have returned, and two former members who say they never will

The Aam Aadmi Party has seen prominent faces drop out like ripe apples from a tree. And the party perhaps, understands that it needs all the might it can get for the 2019 elections. This need has seen them bringing those that dissented or were suspended, back into the fray.

Bijwasan MLA Col Devinder Sehrawat, who had reportedly been suspended for accusing Punjab AAP MLAs of corruption, and for raising his voice against the removal of Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, maintains that the suspension was just spread by the press. There was “no formal suspension letter” he says.

It has been 7-8 months since Sehrawat’s relationship with the party became normal. “We were only one and half years in power (when the fissures between him and the party erupted) and none of us were professional politicians. Now we have changed. There are more meetings and we receive feedback, we interact via SMS. If one has a point, it gets resolved”, Sehrawat says.

The point of self-introspection was also raised by Timarpur MLA Pankaj Pushkar. He says that he knew he had to work with the AAP, “We must save this party and make it stronger as a possible tool to save democracy in India.”

But this very notion is challenged by someone like Ashok Aggarwal, a lawyer known for his work for disadvantaged people and child rights. A former member of the AAP, he believes that the party is misusing their position for their own glory.

Mayank Gandhi, AAPs former key functionary in Maharashtra maintains that he will never return, lest they go back to their foundational principles.
Here’s all of their take on what happened, and what’s in store for the future of the AAP:

STEP BACK FROM PETTY DIFFERENCES

Pankaj Pushkar, AAP MLA Timarpur

It was a party of beginners. Those who were thinking that a corruption free political party is possible. But this was also a party with a lot of romantic people who thought a long leap was possible. In having those high ambitions, we couldn’t realise that nation was under direct threat. We were highly emotional people.

Too honest a people at times and we were also a bit self-righteous. I have learnt that we should reconsider our positioning and we should stop fighting on very small areas of disagreement. This party is a weapon and this weapon must be saved and made stronger, sharper and far more precise
To those that complain that the party is not the same it was in 2013, I would remind a wisdom shared by Gautam Buddha: if you take a dip in a river and come out, the river is not the same and even you aren’t the same. So, it would be a very nice beautiful fantasy to believe that AAP of 2013 would be the AAP of 2018.

I would also appeal to them to come for a serious, deeper dialogue. For making this party more authentic, more grounded, more wide ranging in its understanding of the issues, and more inclusive, it requires a wider range of people. It is very reasonable that we should approach all good forces, whether within the party or in the fringe of the party, or some who are away from the party or even from the other parties.

We do not dream that in 2019 we are going to be the Prime Minister of India. But we do know that the AAP, and the leadership, especially Arvind kejriwal ji, Manish Sisodia ji and Sanjay Singh Ji are going to play a role in making the political unfolding of India in 2019.

We are fighting the struggle to save the federal structure of the constitution which was earlier being done by Tamil Nadu, Punjab sometimes, by Andhra Pradesh sometimes by north eastern states.

They were always concerned that the union government must not eat up their share or regional autonomy. Now this struggle is being done by the government of Delhi. When a new power matrix unfolds, AAP quite reasonably will have its own say. And we’ll forge our friendships on the basis of principles. On the basis of our constitutional obligation.

There’s a polarisation in India whether you’ll build a nation on the basis of Hindu/ Muslim or on the basis of Indian-ness and Indian citizenship. Obviously, we are the government which is making schools and hospitals and Mohalla clinics, we aren’t making mandirs and masjids.

So, it is not a friendship between one party and the other, it is a friendship on the basis of constitutional values which we would be having. And this is how we see the unfolding of our political future.

India must be governed by competent people, and not by communal and casteist agendas, but by the humanitarian agenda and we would seek friends who support this, and we would be friendly with those forces who will ensure this.

THE DISCORD WAS A BAD PHASE

Devinder Sehrawat, AAP MLA, Bijwasan

My suspension was only in the press. There was no formal suspension letter given to me. It was just a bad phase. I’ve been part of ongoing meetings. The CM has been meeting me for official meetings, and everything is conducted in a cordial manner. He has also promised to visit my constituency.

The people who have come back is because we have introspected the difference of opinion, while the party has also done some self-introspection.

We were only one and half years in power, none of us were professional politicians, nor was the party. Now there are more meetings and feedback given. Now if we have some feedback we are able to SMS and interact. If one has a point, then it gets resolved.

I have been given the responsibility as member of the salary committee for MLAs. I have worked with pay commission, and this has been kept in mind. Since the party came to power it’s been a pending issue. The AAP MLAs are the least paid.

As far as the 2019 elections go, AAP has done excellent work in most of the field. But its stood out in government schools and Mohalla clinics. Whether in Gujarat or Maharashtra, people are talking about the AAP. I have ex-serviceman colleagues who are talking about the good work done by the AAP.
In Delhi, public in general appreciative the work that is being done. The party is on a rising beat.

THE AAP WILL NOT WIN LOK SABHA NOR THE ASSEMBLY

Ashok Agarwal, Advocate, former AAP member

Jitni mohobbat sey unhe (AAP) bulaya tha, utni hin mohabbat sey unhe bhejenge (With all the love that they had invited them, they will also send them off). Due to the fact that the expectations have not been met. Everything is in deadlock. There are court orders but there is no work happening.

He (Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal) is more interested in controversies. He wants to be in the news, whether it be for the right or the wrong reason. The first time it worked, now it won’t. The party thinks that the poor are with them but that’s not true. They have lost the peoples trust.

They won’t get anything, neither in the Lok Sabha elections nor in the Assembly. There will be no impact of bringing these MLAs back. They (AAP) think they will get a ticket. But their white lies have impacted its image.

So, I tell you from my heart, that in Delhi if they get even 10 seats it will be a big deal. It was a conscious decision for Delhi to bring in the AAP. They brought them in with a thumping majority. And now the people have already decided that the AAP will be out. And Congress will back in power.

When I left them in 2014, the decision was taken after seeing that they cannot function as a government. They are misusing their position for their own glory. They can’t do governance and they can’t make a proper change.

They want Kejriwal to become the Prime minister.

THE AAP NEEDS A UNION WITH CONGRESS TO WIN

Mayank Gandhi, Social Activist, former AAP leader

I was not a politician. I joined because we thought we were creating a different alternative to the current politics. But the AAP has left that path and now they run with the same motive of caste and religion-based politics.

We lost the principles that the party had started with. If they come back to the alternative politics, then I will be happy to join. But they are getting deeper into a quagmire. People in Delhi had voted because they had promised certain things, to be different, but now it’s like any other party.

The 2019 elections will be presidential like elections with Modi on one side and the rest. In Delhi, they (BJP) will spend huge amounts of money on advertisement and perhaps gain about 40% of vote share. If AAP has to win, they will have to ally with Congress. But as it’s a long way ahead, the union may happen.