| Sunny Paswan inaugurates the Aam Aadmi Party office at the SK Nagar house (right) of former RJD minister Ramdeo Singh Yadav in Patna on Sunday. Pictures by Jai Prakash |
The opening of the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) city office in the SK Nagar house of a former minister of the Lalu ministry has created ripples in the new party.
Ramdeo Singh Yadav, hailing from Munger, was a minister in the first ministry headed by Lalu Prasad in the early-1990s. He openly criticised Lalu several times while being in the ministry but was subsequently dropped. Many in AAP raised eyebrows over the selection of the house, which Ramdeo rented out to AAP for a monthly rent of Re 1. The office is located on the ground floor of the three-storeyed building at SK Nagar.
However, many AAP members did not like the idea of opening the office in a building associated with RJD chief Lalu Prasad who has been convicted in the fodder scam.
An AAP member, requesting anonymity, said: “The office should not have opened here. It will send a wrong message to society. What was the need of opening the party office in a building which belongs to a former minister in the Lalu government? AAP is known for honesty and the party has zero tolerance on corruption. It is fine that today he does not hold any post in the RJD but people know very well about the RJD and its activities.”
Another AAP member said: “The party has this ideology not to entertain any controversial person and at the same time, the office has been opened in the building of a former RJD minister. It will malign AAP’s name. The party is facing criticism though our leader Arvind Kejriwal had decided against taking up the duplex flats allotted to him. I think we should not invite more trouble for the party by opening the office in such a building.” People speculated that AAP Bihar founder member Ratnesh Choudhary stayed away from the function on Sunday because of that reason.
Ramdeo, invited to the event, shook hands with AAP members. He was the MLA from Munger but later became co-operative minister in the Lalu government in 1993-1994.
Even neighbours did not appreciate the AAP move. “It would have been better if the party had taken a place on rent from a person with clean image. There might have been many people who would have loved to offer their building or house,” said a resident of SK Nagar.
However, AAP officer-bearer A.N. Singh, in whose name the rent agreement has been made, said: “We have just rented Ramdeo’s house. He would not be allowed to interfere in our office work. This is not even an issue. The best part is he is so impressed by AAP work that he is just charging Rs 1 for the room.”
Around 100 supporters gathered carrying brooms in their hands. To send a message to the people, AAP got its office inaugurated by a 24-year-old rickshaw-puller, Sunny Paswan, from Nehru Nagar.
A.N. Singh said: “AAP is a party belonging to the common man, not related to businessmen and corporates. So nothing could have been better than a rickshaw-puller doing the honours.”
When The Telegraph asked Sunny who Arvind Kejriwal was, he replied: “I do not know who Arvind Kejriwal is. I was just called here to cut the ribbon of the office and was given a shawl in return.”