The Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan-led Swaraj Abhiyan is all set to metamorphose into a political party to expose the “business as usual” practised by the Aam Aadmi Party, Yadav told The Sunday Guardian. The yet to be named party may strike a blow to AAP’s organisational strength at the grassroots as Yadav and Bhushan are holding extensive “swaraj samvad”, or people to people contact across India to wean away the 2011 India Against Corruption forces, who currently form the cadre of AAP.
The proposed party by the two expelled AAP leaders is also eyeing to spoil AAP’s chances in poll bound Punjab. Yadav confirmed to The Sunday Guardian that the party will be floated ahead of next year’s Assembly elections in the Parkash Singh Badal led state.
“We cannot pretend that we have nothing to do with politics. From day one, we have declared that we are a political organisation. Swaraj Abhiyan is not a non-political NGO,” Yadav said, adding he, along with Bhushan, is working to build their organisational strength.
“We are already giving shape to our organisational strength. We are working in about 15 states. We have had swaraj samvad in 20 states of the union. We are planning to hold organisational elections across these states,” Yadav said. He steered clear of the question on whether his volunteers are in touch with Aam Aadmi Party leaders, but sources in AAP said that a handful of disgruntled Delhi MLAs may switch over to the new party. “Not everybody was happy the way these two leaders (Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan) were treated. There is growing autocracy within the party. One man runs the show. Quite a few people may join Swaraj Abhiyan once it forms a political party and an organisational structure is in place,” a source in AAP said.
Yogendra Yadav alleged that AAP has abandoned its stated objective of transparency and accountability in politics. “It is for everyone to see (that AAP is no longer transparent). Isn’t it obvious that it (AAP) is part of the political establishment? It is like any other party,” Yadav said. He added that they have taken a lesson from the failed experiment of AAP and do not want to rush things.
“We are interested in providing an alternative to established politics. We are not creating an alternative to AAP, we are creating an alternative to established politics,” he said. Leaders in Swaraj Abhiyan said that they want to form a party that is transparent, has internal democracy, and contains structures of accountability, which political parties in the country do not have. People will get to see a different kind of an organisation, they claimed.
With regards to the Assembly elections in Punjab, due in early 2017, Yadav said Swaraj Abhiyan would like to have the proposed party in place before the elections. “The idea is to do it sooner than later. But we have conditions, and unless we meet those conditions, we don’t want to rush into these things,” Yadav said.
He dismissed the notion that they would be seen as a breakaway faction of the AAP. He said that his volunteers and future leaders of the party will adhere to the true spirit of the Anna Hazare-led anti-corruption movement in 2011, thus distinguishing themselves from AAP, which has become a “part of the system”.
“Our first condition is that we should have internal democracy, and we should have internal elections. Self nominated people should not be taking decisions. And second is, we long for transparency and accountability in the organisation. We are working at this and the soonest we are able to do so, we would make an announcement (of the party),” Yadav said.
Sources in Swaraj Abhiyan clarified they do not have any plans of forming a Punjab specific party, but they are open to joining any effort by likeminded Punjabis to forge a principled alternative in the coming Assembly elections.
“Swaraj Abhiyan has indeed decided to support Bhai Baldeep Singh, an independent candidate supported by several organisations, in Khadoor Saheb byelection in Punjab. This is part of Swaraj Abhiyan’s quest for alternative politics in Punjab, where people disgusted with the ruling coalition are in search of a genuine alternative,” sources in Swaraj Abhiyan said.
Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan were the prominent faces along with Arvind Kejriwal of the Anna Hazare-led movement in 2011 against the myriad corruption of the then United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre. The two were expelled in April 2015 from AAP, after they voiced their grievances against Kejriwal’s alleged concentration of power in his own hands.