Friday, March 6, 2015

2nd Note to Volunteers - again from the heart

Dear Volunteers, Supporters and donors,

Since the NE meeting, thousands of you have been asking about the difference between AAP and other parties. I want to tell the country that there is a huge difference and in the next few weeks, we volunteers shall demonstrate the same. As a disciplined worker, I am generally non-confrontational and have never spoken a word against the movement nor party since the past four years outside the appropriate forum. But now is the time to take a stand. This is not to weaken the party nor our leadership, but to strengthen AAP and the principles that we have espoused.

It always has to be nation first, party next and individuals last. Party is only a vehicle to serve the nation and individuals, merely tools. The blogs are an exhortation to our volunteers, supporters and donors, not to disengage nor become negative, but to engage more with the party and force the leaders to truly build AAP into a party of our dreams. A model party based on principles of participation, accountability, transparency, decentralization and integrity. A party that will force other political parties to follow our example and improve governance and political activity in the nation. AAP volunteers need to demonstrate how we are the real owners of the party and bring back the founding principles in the party.

If you had read my earlier blog carefully, it was my personal challenge to the gag order on informing the volunteers about this most important NE meeting. Thousands from all over the world were waiting – some crying, some sleepless and most worried. A gag order was completely wrong. And hence I challenged the same. Having heard AK speak hundreds of times on transparency, participation, accountability and the need to stay away from arrogance, it has built a strong conscience in me. We must follow this higher consciousness, as a party. My blogs are not against any individual nor a challenge to the leadership. That is not how I function.

A volunteer identifies and considers AAP as part of their existence, but the walls built between them, the Committees and their non-transparent decisions have alienated them. Volunteers must propose that all NE meetings be video recorded and volunteers allowed to view the same. All committee members are finally just representatives of volunteers, nothing more. Remember, video recording was one of our demands during the joint draft committee meetings on Janlokpal in 2011. All minutes of the meeting signed by all members in all committees in the country should be released on the next day of the meeting to volunteers and supporters.

I am hoping that the minutes of the 4th March NE is published soon. In my blog, I have given some glimpses of the happenings in the NE, but the complete minutes should be in the public domain. My description could have some shortcomings and may contain some probable bias, but the minutes will be authentic records. The volunteers should request for the same. This will strengthen the party and volunteers will become privy to the decisions taken.

After the 4th March meeting, it was my well thought out and conscious decision to write the blogs to uphold the higher principle of transparency. A price may have to be paid. A small group of party decision makers in Delhi have already removed me from the informal BBM group. Attacks have begun against me from Ashish Khetan and others. Some dissatisfied members from Maharashtra have started giving interviews against me, some old cases are being re-opened. A concerted attempt is being made in social media to call me anti-party and anti-AK. The party may decide not to fight BMC elections or delay the decision for the same, leadership of Maharashtra will be challenged and discredited by some individuals, media leaks will be made. More will come and I will be finally humiliated so much that I will quit.  That was what was planned for YY and PB, but they overturned that plan by staying inside the party. Let me see if I can withstand the muck that will be thrown. But, my being in the party or not is immaterial, if by then, I am able to bring in some changes in the functioning of the party and empowered the volunteers.

In 2013, Iceland became the first country to crowd source its constitution by allowing citizen to create its constitution. Similarly, volunteers need to propose to the NE about processes and systems on subjects of inner party democracy, volunteer management and communication, reconstitution of PAC and NE, code of conduct for volunteers and leaders, gender justice, conflict resolution mechanisms, policy stands on various subjects etc.In my next blog, I shall propose some concrete ideas on the principle of participation of volunteers in the working of the party and seek your ideas and suggestions.

Friends, it is time to participate in the party functioning in the best tradition of Swaraj. It should be non-confrontational, graceful, respectful to the leadership and constructive. We are all learning. 

Let me reiterate, this is not any rebellion, nor against our leadership, nor to seek personal attention. I truly believe that AK is the hope for the country and I have learnt almost everything from him.  I will continue to avoid going to the press.

Jai Hind!

Mayank Gandhi

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Note to volunteers-NE on 4th March

Dear Volunteers,

I am extremely sorry that I am breaking the diktat of not speaking to anyone outside on what transpired in the National Executive meeting, yesterday. Generally, I am a disciplined soldier of the party.

Arvind used to say that when they were coming out of the joint draft committee meeting of the Lokpal in 2011, Kapil Sibal used to ask them not to reveal anything to the outside world. Arvind used to answer that it was his primary duty to inform the nation about the proceedings, as he was not a leader but a representative of the people. Truth and transparency was all that he had.

My presence in the National Executive is only as a representative of the volunteers. And I would be dishonest to accept the gag order. The volunteers cannot be removed from the equation; they are the source of the party. Rather than get information from selective leaks and stray statements, I have decided to give some factual details of the meeting in the public domain.

Last night I was told that disciplinary action would be taken against me, if I revealed anything. So be it – my first allegiance is to the higher truth. Here is an essence of the meeting with regards to removal of YY and PB, based on my understanding. I would request NE to release the minutes of the meeting.

Short background
During the Delhi campaign, Prashant Bhushan had threatened multiple times that he will hold press conference against the party, because of his concerns on candidate selection. Some of us were successful in somehow or other to stave off the threat till the elections. It was alleged that Yogendra Yadav was conspiring against Arvind and some evidences were produced. There were also operational irreconcilable differences and trust deficit between AK, PB and YY 

On 26th Feb night when members of the NE went to meet him, Arvind conveyed that he will not be able to work as Convenor, if these two members were part of the PAC. That was the background of the NE on 4th March.

NE meeting
Yogendra said that he understood that Arvind did not want them in PAC, as it was difficult to him to work together. He and Prashant would be happy to stay out of PAC, but they should not be singled out. Two formulas were put forward by him.

·         That the PAC be reconstituted and new PAC members be elected through voting. PB and YY will not put their candidature.

·         That PAC continue to function in the present form and YY and PB would not attend any of the meetings.

The meeting broke for some time and Manish and others conferred with the Delhi team of Ashish Khetan, Asutosh, Dilip Pandey and others. After reassembling, Manish proposed a resolution that YY and PB be removed from the PAC and it was seconded by Sanjay Singh.

I abstained to vote, because of two contrary reasons

1. Arvind needs a smooth working in the PAC. So, I agreed that PB and YY may be out of PAC and take some alternate important roles. 

2. I was taken aback by the resolution of removing them publicly, especially as they themselves were willing to leave.Also, this decision to sack them was against the overwhelming sentiments of volunteers from all over the world.

So, while I agreed that they can step down from the PAC, the manner and intention behind the resolution was not acceptable. Hence, the decision to abstain.

The other details may come when the minutes of meeting is released.

This is not a revolt, nor is this some publicity ploy. I will not go to the press. There may be some repercussions overt and covert against me. So be it. 

Jai Hind


Mayank Gandhi