The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the very name itself has gradually become an oxymoron as per the allegations of corruption made by the departing party members from time to time.
Born out of the Anna Hazare-led India Against Corruption agitation which intended to root out corruption by bringing in the Jan Lokpal Bill, the Aam Aadmi Party was a beacon of hope for people of Delhi and to some extent, the country. The AAP government was formed with a culmination of participants from different professional genres like the social activists, intellectuals, poets, journalists, politics, lawyers, and others who supported the anti-corruption movement.
But the developments over the years indicate that the situation is no longer rosy for the AAP. Barely four years in power and the party has lost some of its prominent members who have either joined the BJP or the Congress. The reason behind their departure may be attributed to a clash of ideas, an in-house rift, blame game, or a lust for power to rule over the city. Party leaders like Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav who supported the anti-corruption crusade with Anna Hazare which resulted in the formation of Aam Aadmi Party were informally removed in 2015 for “anti-party activities”.
Here are some of the influential members who walked out of the party either by termination or by choice slamming the autocracy of the leadership.
Ashish Khetan: Journalist-turned-politician Ashish Khetan submitted his resignation from the Aam Aadmi Party on August 15 putting rest to all the speculated theories. This move has further exposed the displeasure and bad politics within the Aam Aadmi Party. Although he cited personal reasons for leaving the party there are reports that say he left the party as his request to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections from New Delhi was rejected by Kejriwal.
Ashutosh: Ashutosh was one of the most credible aides of Kejriwal whose exit has raised many questions about party’s internal politics. He was a journalist who joined the Aam Aadmi Party after leaving a high-level post in the news channels. He resigned from the party on August 15 citing personal reasons. But there are rumors that his resignation was due to the fact that he was denied a seat in the Rajya Sabha by Kejriwal.
Kapil Mishra: The exit of Kapil Mishra was quite different from the first two members of the AAP government. He was sacked by the Aam Aadmi Party’s Political Affairs Committee (PAC) in May 2017 after he alleged CM Kejriwal and Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain of corruption charges. He even claimed himself as an eyewitness to the Rs. 2 crore scam between both of them. He held Arvind Kejriwal responsible for the “massive” financial flaws.
Mayank Gandhi: Mayank Gandhi, a social activist, was one of the important members of India Against Corruption crusade. He also served as a member of the Aam Aadmi Party and headed the party from the Maharashtra region. But soon his AAP unit in Maharashtra was disbanded following a disagreement with Kejriwal. Gandhi said the leadership is “hell-bent on destroying” the party and is diverging from the path of honest politics. He submitted his resignation in 2015 stating personal reasons for it.
Madhu Bhaduri: She was one of the founding members of the Aam Aadmi Party who parted ways with the party after being disappointed with its way of operation. She quit the party claiming ill-treatment of the women party leaders.”I have just one issue, and that is humanity. And women are humans. In this party, women are not considered humans,” said Ms. Bhaduri in her statement.
Yogendra Yadav: He was the co-founder of the Aam Aadmi Party, which was the result of the Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement in 2011. Yadav was unceremoniously dismissed from the party in March 2015 on the grounds of ‘anti-party activities’. This came as a shock to him. He said, “I am not surprised as from the past few days the matter was moving in such direction. Though I also cannot deny the fact that I am hurt by it. How would you feel if someone drags and throws you out of your own house.”
Prashant Bhushan: Prashant, a senior Supreme Court lawyer by profession, joined Aam Aadmi Party with a hope that this party is free from corruption and malice, and different from other corrupt parties. But this hope of his dashed as he was ousted from the party along with Yogendra Yadav and Anand Kumar on the grounds of “anti-party activities” in 2015. He accused the leadership of hooliganism and dictatorship while saying Kejriwal is “ruthlessly stifling voices of dissent”.
Anand Kumar: Kumar was one of the co-founders of the Aam Aadmi Party who was sacked from the party along with Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan. Kumar later joined ‘Swaraj Abhiyan’, a non-political movement, of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan.
Ajit Jha: Ajit Jha was also removed from the party based on the grounds of his involvement in anti-party activities.
Anjali Damania: Anjali Damania left the Aam Aadmi Party after allegations against Kejriwal of “horse trading” cropped up. She joined the party to fight against corruption and when the political scenario within the party became corrupted, she decided to leave. Her resignation came after a news channel aired a video of Arvind Kejriwal bribing Congress MLA’s to join AAP to form a government in Delhi. She tweeted, “I quit… I have not come into AAP for this nonsense. I believed him. I backed Arvind for principles, not horse-trading.”
Vinod Kumar Binny: He referred Kejriwal as a “dictator” and blamed the party of “betraying” the people of Delhi by renouncing its core principles. He even declared a dharna at Jantar Mantar “if the party fails to fulfill the promises made to people”. He was terminated from the party’s membership for acting against the party lines in January 2014. He later shook hand with BJP in 2015.
Captain GR Gopinath: Captain GR Gopinath, founder of low-cost carrier in India, left AAP in may 2014 due to the increasing differences between the party members and Kejriwal. He disapproved Kejriwal for “shoot and scoot politics”.
Shazia Illmi: One of the co-founders and erudite leader of the AAP, Shazia Illmi also left the party from all the positions in May 2014 as the party was no longer following its core values. She stated that the “lack of inner party democracy” has provoked her resignation. During a press conference after her resignation, she praised the efforts of the party and said that Kejriwal is “guided by an inner coterie which does not allow democracy within the party”.
Ashok Agarwal: Ashok Agarwal, a lawyer by profession and one of the National Executive members of AAP, said a final adieu to the party in March 2014. The reason for leaving the party was that it was functioning as a “private limited company” and was becoming “directionless”. In a letter to Kejriwal, he wrote that he joined the party for its “strong principles” but now the “goals for which it was created for are getting lost”.
Maulana Qazmi: He acted as the National council member of AAP before his resignation. During a press conference after his quit, he referred to Kejriwal’s party as a ‘fraudulent entity’.
MS Dhir: He was the AAP legislator and a speaker of Delhi Assembly before leaving the party. He said that Kejriwal who ruled over Delhi for 49 days did not deserve a second chance. A lot of cases of infighting emerged within the AAP leadership.
SP Udayakumar: Famous anti-nuclear movement activist, SP Udayakumar, also left AAP as the party was not attending to the concerns of the people and Tamil Nadu related issues. His exit from the party was a massive blow as the party was aiming to target the south of the Vindhyas through him.
The other dissenters who exited AAP include several others such as Ashwini Upadhyay, Surajit Dasgupta, Nutan Thakur, and Maulana Maqsood Ali Kazmi. There are speculations that Kumar Vishwas, another member of the party might also be exiting the party as the poet-politician is continuously targeting Kejriwal through his twitter posts.
With such numbers of party members leaving AAP with anguish and disappointment, criticizing the party publicly with allegations of corruption and deviation from its core principles, the next year’s Lok Sabha elections is definitely a Herculean task for the party.