New Delhi: When the whole Delhi was with the Aam Aadmi Party, some “friends backstabbed” us, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal told yesterday's National Council meeting which removed dissident leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav from the National Executive for “anti-party activities”.
As per an edited video of his speech released by AAP today, Kejriwal launched an all-out attack on Bhushan and Yadav and accused them of trying to realise their personal ambitions under the garb of raising issues of “principles”, and in the process weaken the party.
In an emotional speech, Kejriwal said, “When the whole Delhi stood behind us, some friends of ours cheated us. I am saying this with a heavy heart that when the whole of Delhi was with us, some friends backstabbed us.”
“Conspiracies were hatched to ensure our defeat in the Delhi polls. AVAM (a breakway group) was formed and it was supported. It then came in the media that AVAM members were former BJP members and BJP was funding them.
“Prashant ji told many people that we think the party should lose then only can the party and Kejriwal learn a lesson. If you don't do this then we will go before the press and destroy the party,” Kejriwal said.
Targeting Yadav, Kejriwal said stories were being planted to tarnish his image.
“Stories were planted. Senior editors of two big news channels have told me that Yogendra Yadav was planting stories against me,” he said.
Lashing out at Shanti Bhushan for giving interviews critical of Kejriwal just before the Delhi polls, Kejriwal said many donors were discouraged from donating and volunteers stopped from campaigning.
“Many volunteers wanted to come to Delhi. They were stopped. Many donors were stopped from campaigning. The limit was when our senior leader (Shanti Bhushan) of the party said that Kiran Bedi was his first choice, Ajay Maken was the second choice and Kejriwal is the third choice. I want to know then why are you into this party?” he asked. He said the negotiations over the past few days from the side of Bhushan and Yadav were nothing but a sham under the veil of principles.
“There were attempts to weaken me and the party. When I came back from Bengaluru, I spoke to members of my team and sent them the same night to speak to Yogendra bhai. From that day to day before yesterday (Thursday), we tried our best to resolve the problem.”
“They (Yadav and Bhushan) first said they had five demands which, if met, they would quit all party posts. It was slightly shocking, normally people say either fix the party or we will quit... It was all a sham. They were showing the world that it was a fight of principles,” Kejriwal added.
Kejriwal said the mudslinging that continued for over a month benefitted neither any of the groups nor the party. It was only the opposition which got benefitted, he said. “In the last one-and-a-half months, whatever has happened, who benefitted the most? Did Kejriwal become strong? Did the Aam Aadmi Party grow stronger? Did Prashant Bhushan grow stronger? Did Yogendra Yadav grow stronger? Did internal democracy and Swaraj come into the party? We all got maligned.
“Other parties felt with whatever happened since last one and half months...then if this is Swaraj or internal democracy then God save this Swaraj? Who benefitted from this? Modi, BJP, Congress and Ambani benefitted from this,” he said.
Responding to the charges of Bhushan and Yadav, who had earlier accused him of looking at winability of candidates rather than their record and character, Kejriwal said he was not greedy for any post and had even resigned as the chief minister. He also regretted that his “own people” doubted his integrity.
“Why will I compromise. 100 people can say that I am stubborn (ziddi), but neither the BJP nor the Congress can say I am dishonest. My won people doubted my honesty... I compromised. We did not give tickets to so many people.
“I did not give ticket to my uncle's son, not my relatives or friends nor did I accept money in exchange of tickets. Every candidate's record was cross-checked. We were told that winability of candidates is important. Yes, we have come here to win not to lose,” he said.
Kejriwal had also asked the National Council to choose between “him and them” as he tendered resignation from the post of National Convenor, his membership from the PAC, National Executive and National Council. He said he was not in the party to fight with Yadav or Bhushan.
“We have given birth to this party. Have given blood and sweat to the party and even put life on stake. I am a diabetic. For 15 days I sat in fast (in April 2013). No doctor was ready to say that I would survive for next 48 hours. My mom and wife cried a lot. My ketone level had gone to 4 and 5, which is much higher than the normal level. I have come back from the jaws of death. Take this party, but do not kill it. I am not here to fight with these people.
“My fight is with corruption and communal forces. I am not here to fight with Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav. I have conceded defeat. You people have won. I am here to put an end to this war. You have to decide today. Since last one year, every NE and PAC has seen fights and arguments. You have to decide on whom do you want to choose? Either choose me or them,” Kejriwal said.