New Delhi: Quite like the Congress, key members of the Aam Aadmi Party may soon speak out against the party’s official position on the Union government’s orders on Jammu and Kashmir.
While one prominent leader of the party has already registered her protest against party chief Arvind Kejriwal’s support for the government’s resolutions to render Article 370 ineffective and turn Jammu and Kashmir into a union territory, sources say that other members may also go the same way.
We support the govt on its decisions on J & K. We hope this will bring peace and development in the state.
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) August 5, 2019
On Wednesday early morning, AAP member and Narmada Bachao Andolan’s (NBA) senior leader Chitaroopa Palit, in a Facebook post, condemned her party’s stand on the matter.
Palit wrote, “As an AAP member, I am shocked and dismayed at the position taken by AAP and it’s National Convenor Shri Arvind Kejriwal supporting the anti democratic, violent and fascist actions of the BJP and the Central government…”
She asked how Kejriwal could support the indiscriminate arrest of “duly elected political leaders of Kashmir”, “unjustified use of section 144” across Jammu and Kashmir and the blockage of all lines of communication.
Palit, better known as having led the famous 2015 Jal Satyagraha for the rehabilitation of oustees in the Omkareshwar Dam project in Madhya Pradesh, has been a member of the Madhya Pradesh unit of AAP ever since it was formed. Her close associate in the NBA, Alok Agarwal, contested the parliamentary polls both in 2014 and 2019 on an AAP ticket.
Adding that the Constitution on Article 370 is “specific and unequivocal” that it cannot be revoked without the Kashmir legislature approving it, she alleged that AAP went against the grain of “democracy, swaraj and human rights” by supporting the government’s “unilateral decision”. She said that the party’s strategic support for the government action also violated the notion of “cooperative federalism”.
“I sense the scent of fear…The public schools that we have created in Delhi will be privatised when the fascists similarly take over Delhi. Nothing survives without democracy,” she said.
“AAP was seen by many as a bastion of resistance for the poor, the weak, the unrepresented and the ordinary person. AAP will become meaningless if it no longer resists injustice, and history will know it only as a collaborator,” read her strong statement.
Not the same tale as the Congress
The Congress has already been rocked by some significant leaders going a different way from their party’s official stand. However, Palit’s dissent against her party’s high command is different from what is brewing in the grand-old party.
Younger leaders in the Congress have opened a front against their seniors for having opposed the alleged unconstitutionality of the government’s order on Kashmir by registering their support for the abrogation of Article 370.
In contrast, leaders like Palit in AAP have begun to protest against Kejriwal’s “unilateral” decision to support the government’s order dismantling the state of J&K. A sitting MLA of the party, who did not want to be named, told The Wire that Kejriwal’s support to the government’s decision to bifurcate J&K and Ladakh into union territories may dilute the party’s own movement seeking full statehood for Delhi.
Critics have already pointed out the contradictions prevalent in AAP’s standpoint. “It beats logic how and why Kejriwal, who has been leading the demand to grant full statehood to Delhi, supports the government’s action to scrap autonomy of another state,” a Delhi University’s political scientist, who did not want to be named told The Wire.
None of AAP’s central leaders have responded to Palit’s dissent so far.
The Wire reached out to Raghav Chaddha and Saurabh Bhardwaj for a comment but they have remained unresponsive. The story will be updated as and when they respond.