19 May 2021 07:13 AM

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Seema Mustafa | 30 MARCH, 2015

“Dear Arvind Kejriwalji……”


Dear Arvindji,

At a time when letters are literally being hurled and flung within your party without thought or reason, I thought that perhaps another missive by an outsider would not be out of place. And who knows might even be read by both sides, as an outsiders view who has little axe to grind except dismay to see a new experiment that had fired the imagination of the young, go down the drain.

Of course it goes without saying you are the leader of the Aam Aadmi Party. And anyone who tries to challenge that is simply barking up the wrong tree. But having said that, surely a leader cannot join the cacophony but has to rise above it, to mend fences, to find solutions, to appease ego’s, in short---to keep the flock together, and with it the peoples faith in what had excited all as a new and a different party.

But you Arvindji, did exactly the opposite of what was expected and joined the one group to “finish” the other. In the process you have finished AAP, or at least started what is looking like an irretrievable decline of the party even before your government is in functioning order. I just happened to read your colleague and my former colleague Ashutosh’s open letter to Yogendra Yadav, and was seriously hoping to find a word or two there that would counter my misgivings. But instead all I found was confirmation of that I was not wrong in penning an epitaph for AAP, as the points he has put down are downright petty and excuse me for being blunt, utterly foolish.

In the initial stages I was amongst those questioning Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav for raising issues at a time when the need of the hour was to govern, and ensure that the government rose to the expectations of the people. “Opportunists” versus “Yes Men” was a headline that spoke of a neutral position, with the accusations being hurled by each group against the other carrying worrisome grains of truth. Bhushan and Yadav could not have timed it worse, and it did seem that a great deal of their angst was to do with being sidelined within the party. At the same time the men around you seemed to be getting their strength out of servility and loyalty to you, and not as equal colleagues capable of speaking their mind without fear or favour. Ashutosh’s ‘open letter’ is a demonstration of the same!

The full fledged war between the two groups broke out while you were in Bangalore, and while that allowed you the fig leaf of impartiality it did not really last did it? It became clear even then that you were not happy with the dissenters, that you were encouraging your group to put them in place, and that in your view they could leave if they so wished. They did not so wish, and hence the unseemly exchange of words and scenes at the National Council meeting of your party in full public view.

Of course the victory would always be yours. You are the leader, and there has never been any doubt about that. Perhaps it is correct---but then perhaps it is not ---that Yadav had ambitions. But what is so wrong about that? Why is Ashutosh so aggrieved that Yadav wanted to head the Haryana unit? And instead of bringing matters to this sad and tragic end, you could have risen to the occasion and given Yadav and Bhushan the status they deserved, with responsibilities that would take care of their peeve, cash in on their capabilities and at the same time disarm them insofar as the public perception was concerned.

But instead you joined the servile brigade that has taken care to massage your ego from the very beginning, and showed that you are not much better than the other leaders who are running sad and bad political parties. AAP had ignited peoples imagination, with your persona but also with your program and policies and strategy. And you know, better than I, that the last bits were part of a united effort that included the likes of Bhushan and Yadav. And that servility usually is a sign of fawning mediocrity that has crippled our political system. Part of the charm of AAP came from its ‘body of equals’ that of course was the first to be decimated after you got Delhi.

There were so many ways to have controlled this turn of events, and sorted it out. Provided of course you had developed a will to do so. You did not only because you succumbed to the temptation of becoming the “unchallenged” leader who no longer needed to tolerate dissent.

Sad, as I for one had thought you were growing to be a leader. And AAP would grow with you. Expectations belied! Not mine but of the thousands who had believed in you it seems---a cursory look at the social media gives it all away. But then those in power often become blind and deaf, and do not catch the signals even when these are loud and clear. And you Arvindji have joined those in power. After all, why not? You are in power. And you can rest happy that you have at least a five year innings. Whatever that means…!

All the very best,

Seema Mustafa

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