Mangalore: Internal tug-of-war mars AAP's first year in district
Deekshith D V
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore
Mangalore, Feb 19: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) marked the first year of its launch in the district this month, but already, ego clashes seem to have have triggered internal conflicts for the position of district convener.
On the AAP website, the district spokesperson has confirmed Dharmendra as the party’s convener for Dakshina Kannada. On the other hand, Robert Rosario, who was district convener of AAP when it was launched here, asserted in a recent press meet that he is still the convener of the district AAP party. He said that the party has not removed him nor has he received any letter in this regard. He also asserted that he was the founder president of the ad hoc committee of AAP party in the district.
Dharmendra and Robert Rosario
Meanwhile, as reports of internal conflicts emerged, the district unit of the party issued a press release stating that Robert Rosario had ceased to be the convener and was suspended from all committee reponsibilities.
The release states, "Robert Rosario’s resignation in the meeting dated November 22, 2013 was the culmination of a sequence of many events during which he was taking unilateral decisions, not taking the committee into confidence. Fighting with the preparatory committee members had become the order of the day. The party growth suffered and the meetings only ended with discussions and nothing more. On December 19 in a joint meeting of the executive committee and advisory committee chaired by senior advisory committee member Dr Satish Rao, the committee members ended up asking him to be removed. Rosario in his turn declared that he was ready to step down. The members then decided to handover the funtional responsibility of party affairs to joint convenor Dharmendra.
"In the meeting of executive committee dated December 30, Dharmendra as convener and Rohan Shiri as secretary were nominated to own responsibility assigned to them to represent the district and expand the organisation.
"Even after resigning from the post, Robert Rosario attended the subsequent committee meeting(s) called by the new committee on January 3, 2014 in which, Rosario had not raised any objection on the new team, rather continued to fight with other members of the committee on trivial issues. In fact, Rosario refused to sign the attendance register stating that he ceased to be a member of the executive committee and hence would not sign," the release states.
"As Rosario was controlling the party email account, which he did not hand over even after stepping down - it prompted the executive committee to expel him from the committee for 3 months in its meeting dated January 9," the AAP stated in the release.
However, speaking to Daijiworld, Rosario alleged that the AAP party headed by convener Dharmendra was 'unconstitutional'.
"I haven’t resigned from the party. The party cannot expel me without considering my explanation. As convener, I have the right to continue the tenure for three years. Dirt should be cleaned wherever it is, it may be within the party or from outside the party," Rosario said, alleging that Dharmendra, the present convener, Vinodh Rao, Rohan Shiri, secretary, and his wife Shami Shiri are 'manipulating' the party.
"Sidharath Sharma, state coordinator is supporting these four in their foul game. Dharmendra who came from the JD(U) and created confusion, is actively involved in groupism and is giving a communal colour to the party. When AAP wanted to take up the issue of Sowjanya’s issue, Siddhartha Sharma had said that it would hamper the poll prospects during the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. Siddharth Sharma played a role in eliminating my name from the party website," alleged Rosario.
"Harshitha K S, AAP committee member, in her mail (dated October 17, 2013), informed that as she was moving to Bangalore very soon, she would not be able attend AAP meeting and she was willing to drop herself from the district committee. But her name is added in the party website. How did she get into the district committee? My name has been removed because of Siddharth Sharma," he claimed.
Backing Rosario, Walter D’Souza, district committee member of AAP, and Vishnumurthy Bhat maintainted that Robert Rosario is the convener of district AAP.
Allegations false, says AAP
The AAP in its press release stated, "There is no truth in any of the allegations made by Rosario against any of AAP's responsible volunteers... AAP follows a decentralized democratic process in which it empowers units at the grassroots levels, without any high-command culture. Therefore, there is no basis for any allegations against the state level functionaries."
AAP district spokesperson Nandagopal
Siddharth Sharma, coordinator of AAP, Karnataka state preparatory committee, talking over phone confirmed, "I don’t know about the confusion in the party but Dharmendra is the convener for the Dakshina Kannada Aam Aadmi Party."
Dharmendra himself confirmed that Rosario had resigned from the post of Dakshina Kannada unit of AAP in the presence of the district executive committee. "We even have documents of his resignation. If Robert Rosario can produce documents to prove his allegations against me, I will surely quit my post," he declared.
District spokesperson of AAP Nandagopal said, "As the party is evolving we haven’t checked the past records of party workers. In future, they will be strictly scrutinized. Convener in the party is not a post; our aim is to restore power to people in accordance with the the promise of Swaraj enshrined in the Constitution." He also said that the disciplinary committee will issue show cause notices to anyone indulging in anti-party activities.
It remains to be seen if this conflict would prove to be a hindrance to the party’s growth in the district. Internal conflicts have violated the party constitution’s article VI which deals with code of conduct and fraternity, which comes under objectives of the party under Article II. As the party is still in the process of evolving, there is no district Lokayukta as mentioned in the constitution to address internal disputes, indiscipline, grievances, or a grievance committee within the party.
Finally, when there are disputes within the party, questions over its credentials will definitely be raised. Though the party has a strong constitution as well as a desire to eradicate corruption, it needs to answer people's nagging doubts not just by words, but by deeds.