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Voice against racism shouted down in AAP

New Delhi, Feb. 1: Madhu Bhaduri, former diplomat and a founding member of the Aam Aadmi Party, was hooted down at a meeting yesterday when she suggested the party “distance itself from any racial comments” and apologise to the African women “humiliated” by a mob led by law minister Somnath Bharti.

“I was allowed to speak only at the fag end of the (national council) meeting. I had spoken for barely a few minutes when the shouting brigade began shouting,” the retired IFS officer told The Telegraph.

“Chairperson Yogendra Yadav made no effort to stop those shouting. He, in fact, asked me to stop. There was a ruckus. I was hounded and the microphone was snatched from me,” added Bhaduri, wife of academic Amit Bhaduri.

Ajay, a party volunteer, said Bhaduri had “tears in her eyes” when she came out. “She told me she was hooted down and not allowed to speak.”

Asked for his reaction, Yadav merely cited “differences” in the party on the incident of January 15 night, when Bharti targeted the women on the pretext of a crackdown on a drugs and sex racket.

“Madhu Bhaduri is a respected member of the party. Yesterday, there were differences over the incident. She expressed differences with the party and expressed her anger,” he said.

Bhaduri is an old comrade of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who had skipped the meeting along with his ministers because it coincided with a cabinet discussion. Asked if Kejriwal had called her afterwards, she said: “No; they don’t want a voice of dissent.”

A “disillusioned” Bhaduri, member of the party’s committees on gender justice, foreign policy and national security, said she would not attend party meetings any more.

“I can’t resign because I hold no post in the party,” she said, without revealing whether she might quit her party membership.

“Electoral compulsions seem to have taken over the party. It’s now just like any other party. There’s a high command that doesn’t tolerate dissent. It has become Aam Aadmi Prejudice,” she said.

Bhaduri had retired from the foreign service in November 2003 and, by mid-2004, joined Parivartan, the RTI campaign led by Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and Manish Sisodia.

She had served a notice to the party national council saying she wanted to move a resolution. “The national council of AAP unanimously resolves to tender an apology to the women from Uganda and Nigeria,” it said.

“The AAP distances itself from any racist comments made by the party and apologises for any such comments by its members and supporters.”

The resolution was not taken up.