Published On : Thu, Mar 5th, 2015

AAP Drama – catastrophe or storm in a tea cup?



So Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan have been asked to step aside from the AAP party’s PAC and take up other roles that will be assigned to them. And they have done so, willingly or not. Prashant Bhushan hasn’t spoken up on the subject yet, but Yogendra Yadav has and he has requested people to not take this “one day in the life of a party so seriously”.

“This is one day and one meeting. The life of a political party extends much beyond this day – I am still a loyal worker and party member of AAP and I will take up the task that is assigned to me. Please do not make such a hue and cry over it” was his statement.


I quite agree.

While the national media is going blue in the face analyzing AAP party’s majority decision ( 8 vs 11) and doing ‘post mortem’ of the situation as if quick on the heels of its spectacular victory AAP just expired, I chose to look at the biopics of these two men – Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav.

And once I saw how their lives have evolved and turned in the past – specially their public lives – I am not at all surprised by the turn of events today.

What I saw was these two men are basically loners. They are highly educated, qualified, talented and intellectual no doubt, but that is precisely what makes them not quite cut out for politics probably?

Let us look closely at Yadav first. How many readers know that just six years ago, in the 2009 elections he was an Advisor to Rahul Gandhi and by dint of his closeness to this gentleman was considered a Congressman? He was not considered fit for fighting elections but thought of as an erudite man who could chair committees and give his opinions on policy and polity. He was given many such positions – As per wikipedia information on him –

He comes from an academic background and his father and his wife both have been or are Professors.

He has been a Senior Fellow at the Centre of Studies for Developing societies (CSDS), Delhi since 2004. He is a former member of (UGC) and National Advisory Council (NAC) on appointed by UPA Government.

Between 1995-2002, Yadav was the founder-convenor of the Lokniti network. He was also founder-director of the CSDS Lokniti research programme on comparative democracy between 1997 and 2003. He is still considered a renowned psephologist and since 1996, he has been a political commentator on a number of television channels in India including NDTV, Doordarshan and Cnn-IBN. . Yadav was appointed as a member of the National Advisory Council for the implementation of the Right to Education Act in 2010.He was appointed a Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in 2004.

But by 2011 Yadav began getting restless being just an Advisor, a Consultant and an Observor – he wanted the hurly burly of real politics so after being a part of IAC he joined the AAP Party.

Promptly, the Congress and the UPA Government objected to his sailing in two boats at the same time.
His involvement with the Aam Aadmi Party was perceived as creating a conflict of interest with his July 2011 appointment as a member of the University Grants Commission, resulting in the Ministry of HRD ejecting him from the latter role in September 2013. Yadav has argued that there was no conflict.

His contribution to the constitution of the Aam Aadmi party is no doubt invaluable and he has contributed significantly to party formation but when he tried to contest elections he was a dismal failure.
He came 4th and lost his deposit in the Lok Sabha elections fighting from Gurgaon in Delhi.

What went wrong between him and Kejriwal? Read what a former AAP member and a journalist Surajit Dasgupta who was a part of AAP’s decision making body till 2013 has to say –

Yadav and Bhushan did everything to subvert internal democracy in the Aam Aadmi Party until the tables turned against them. In all likelihood, the party chief tolerated them for his own intellectual shortcoming and the fear that the duo would be dangerous as dissenters.

In a scathing and detailed article, Dasgupta tries to explain what is wrong with the AAP and the games being played by various players both within and outside the party. He writes that Yadav and Bhushans story of subterfuge is long. While one of them was initially admired within the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for disarming other panelists on television talk shows with a modulated intonation of voice, the other was hailed for his public interest litigation (PILs) against perceived corrupt people. But neither Yogendra Yadav nor Prashant Bhushan is popular in the party, not at least in the national council – the third line of command of which this writer was a part till 21 November 2013, when he resigned due to a “manifesto of freebies and doles”.

Now let us look at Prashant Bhushan. He is even more of an intellectual and an academic than Yogendra Yadav, if possible. Studied briefly at IIT, Madras, before turning to law studies and graduating from University of Kanpur. Went to Princeton in USA after that. On returning to India he joined his father Shanti Bhushan in practicing law but also became a Social Activist. He claimed that he was not a “professional, money making lawyer” and took on cases of only “deserving clients” not choosing them on their capacity to pay.

Bhushan was drawn to public activism, influenced by his father. His main areas of interest have been human rights, environment and accountability of the public servants, including the judiciary. He is associated with various organisations including the Centre for Public Interest litigation, (CPIL), (PUCL), etc. . He is also the convenor of the Working Committee of the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Judicial Reforms.

His father Shanti Bhushan has been a Law Minister in Morarji Desai’s government and after being a member of Congress O joined BJP in 1990. He later resigned over some differences with other party leaders and much later became a Founding member of AAP along with his son Bhushan.

He is given to making many sensational statements – that keep him in the news? Over the years he has shocked the law community by stating that “most judges are corrupt” – a statement for which he was asked to apologize. He then said that he favored plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir and demanded that the Indian Army should withdraw from there at once. This statement had caused a lot of trouble and embarrassment for Kejriwal on the eve of previous Delhi elections when he had to take pains to explain that these were Bhushan’s personal views and not those of AAP.

Probably his activism and his acumen for accusations has had many politicians and political parties running scared of him.

If Yadav has been close to Congress party, Bhushan and his father have received benefits from BJP politicians and state governments over the past years. Like the land they were ‘allowed’ tp purchase at a throw away price in Himachal Pradesh.

The AAP leader’s Kumud Bhushan Educational Society was allowed to purchase 4.68 hectare land meant for a tea plantation by the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. However, according to the state’s laws, land-use of a tea garden could not be changed as these are exempted under the ceiling act.

It was alleged that the land, worth several crores of rupees in Palampur in Kangra district, was given to the educational society for just a few lakh rupees. The sale deed of the land in Palampur, some 250 km from shimla, was registered by Bhushan’s educational society in March 2010.

Later it was Shanti Bhushan’s other son who was accused of receiving favours of a costly plot in Noida from Mayawati when she was UP, CM. She was targeted by Shanti Bhushan too later and got into her bad books.

So such are these two gentlemen – erudite but have got into trouble with every political party and politicians they have interacted with.

Intellectually, may be they cannot be faulted for considering Kejriwal ‘inferior’ and thus wanting to usurp decision making powers within AAP to themselves. That they were unpopular among others in AAP aside from Kejriwal is known that they tried a coup from within against him is also true. When the tables were turned against them they are now crying ‘wolf’.

With or without them, AAP is not about to “implode” as many have suggested. From one point of view Disaster has been Averted.