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An insider's view of rebel AAP meet Swaraj Samwad led by Prashant Bhushan

By Aurobindo Ghose*
On April 14, 2015 was Ambedkar Jayanti, when three social activists from Delhi - Dwijendra Nath Kalia, Tarun Kanti Bose and me - attended the Swaraj Samwad (a Dialogue on Present and Future Alternative Politics ) held at Gurgaon, Haryana from11:45 am to 6:45 pm. The participants to this Dialogue consisted of about 3,000-3,500 Aam Admi Party (AAP) volunteers, mostly (2,000-2,500) drawn from all parts of the country, outside Delhi, organised and invited by 49 named leaders of the AAP and spear-headed by four members of the National Executive Council who were forcibly ejected from its meeting on March 28, 2015 and later expelled, namely Prof Ajit Jha, DrYogendra Yadav, Advocate Prashant Bhushan and Prof Anand Kumar.
Throughout the day, there were speeches, messages, discussions, voting on key issues, interspersed by songs (by Neeraj Kumar), poems (including those by Mahipal Sharma) , video shows, lunch and tea..A video-recorded message of the erstwhile AAP internal Lokpal, Admiral Ramdas was shown..Messages from D. Dharamveer Gandhi, AAP M.P from Patiala, Christina Swamy, AAP NEC member from Tamil Nadu, social activist Aruna Roy and renowned journalist Kuldip Nayar. were read out as they could not attend. 
Key speeches were made by senior advocate and advisor Shanti Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan, Dev Naur Mahadev, the leader of the Nav Nirman Movement from Karnataka ( who spoke in Kannada and was successively translated into English and then into Hindi), Delhi MLA Pankaj Pushkar, Vinod MS district convenor from Mysore, Karnataka, Tanveer Alam who was candidate for Parliament from Bihar, mass leaders from Punjab - Tarsem Singh and Baldeep Singh - and fiery Dalit leaders like Jyoti Maan from Punjab and Maruti Bhapkar from Thane, Maharashtra.
Voting by mobile SMS in the pre-lunch session was on the point as to whether the AAP followed the Principle of Swaraj ( i.e. internal Democracy and Transparency) and 93% of the participants voted a loud and clear " NO ". Post-lunch, the entire volunteers were divided into sixty groups of 40 - 50 volunteers each grouped by State or region of origin, to discuss and decide the immediate and future course of the Movement. Right at the end of the meeting, after Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan spoke at length, a total of 2,157 volunteers voted on the three options for a future course of action, filling forms which were distributed.
The option which said "Trust the party leadership and appeal to it to follow Swaraj" got 1.4 %of the vote, while 3.4% said " Cannot say".The second option " Quit the party now and immediately declare the formation of a new party" got 25.45 % of the vote, while a little less than 70% voted for the third option "
As far as possible, struggle and campaign for Swaraj and carry out public movements on mass issues without leaving the party. Review the experience after some time. " An almost unanimous Resolution was passed by show of hands echoing the third option, with the review period kept at six to twelve months after which another Swaraj Samwad will be convened at the national level.
The seven-hour long Swaraj Samvad was indeed a refreshing experience. Internal democracy was at work. Decisions were taken by successive stages of open discussion, debate and then secret ballot. Transparency was clearly present. As the letter of Invitation said in a lighter vein: " Members are allowed to take pens, mobiles and cameras inside the meeting." 
The Press was permitted inside in large numbers and allowed to do their work without any interference. Donations were collected at the end by spreading a sheet of cloth in which more than a Lakh of Rupees was collected in no time.
If this is not Swaraj at work, what else is Swaraj. It was indeed befitting of the day being Ambedkar Jayanti, that just as Dr. Ambedkar started the Movement for Temple Entry, so too this Dialogue decided to launch on this very day, the Movement to free the Society and the Party of Corruption, Dictatorship and Hidden Agendas.
---
*Human rights activist and advocate. Formerly at the Delhi School of Economics

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