"Deeply disillusioned" with the AAP, former diplomat and one of its founding members Madhu Bhaduri feels the party is no different from other political groupings and is brushing away "real social issues" under the carpet with the broom.Bhaduri, who quit the party after being heckled by party members over raising the issue of Law Minister Somnath Bharti's widely reported harassment of African women, said the Aam Aadmi Party "does not allow dissent".
"I am deeply disillusioned. I had thought there was hope when AAP was formed.. but they are no different from other political parties. They are only interested in the Haryana elections and the Lok Sabha elections. And the real social issues they have brushed under the carpet with their jhadu (AAP symbol)," Bhaduri, a former ambassador to Portugal, told IANS.
She dismissed the pronouncement of AAP leaders, including Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, that the party allows dissent among members, said the way she was "shouted down" by AAP when she proposed that the party owed an apology for the "humiliation" of the African women during Bharti's midnight campaign at South Delhi's Khirki Extension."They did not feel the need to consult the committee on gender justice, of which I am a member, before carrying out the raid. They could have asked, what is your opinion."
According to Bhaduri, the AAP does "not have a single woman" on its political affairs committee and very few women in the national executive."The party took such a big decision where women are concerned (the midnight raid by Bharti). Which woman did they consult before taking the step" she asked.The party is "blind to social issues and blind to the policy of woman", according to Bhaduri. who has also served ambassador in Belarus and Lithuania and after retirement from the Indian Foreign Service in 2003 works with NGO Parivartan that is fighting corruption and promoting Right to Information (RTI).
According to her, party chief and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was "very sincere" when he sang a song on "insaniyat" ( humanism) at his oath-taking ceremony. "But the way they behaved with the Africans, there was no insaniyat in that," she said.
She said she had wanted the party to "say sorry and that they did not intend to humiliate the women"."But I was heckled.. I was shouted down, and the mike snatched from me. Yogendra Yadav said 'You have had your say, don't make a spectacle the media is here'; but there were no media persons present."
"It is frightening the way the party is behaving.. there is something terribly wrong," said Bhaduri.Some African women in Khirki Extension were rounded up last month when Bharti went there along with some AAP members at midnight following complaints of a "drugs and prostitution racket' being run there. The women have filed complaints with the police of manhandling by the AAP people. The issue triggered a controversy with India reaching out to worried African envoys and condemning the incident.