Cite differences over Kejriwal’s ‘jail politics’

Two prominent members of the Aam Aadmi Party — Shazia Ilmi and G.R. Gopinath — quit the party on Saturday citing differences over Arvind Kejriwal’s “jail politics” and “lack of internal democracy” in the party.

Ms. Ilmi, a primary founder-member, announced her resignation from all party posts claiming that a “crony clique” around Mr. Kejriwal was calling the shots.

“After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to give up my AAP membership and resign from all positions within the party,” she said at a crowded press conference. She was a member of the national executive and national spokesperson of the party.

Former Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti and Shalimar Bagh MLA Vandana Kumari, who met Ms. Ilmi, were unsuccessful in persuading her to reconsider her decision. AAP’s chief spokesperson Yogendra Yadav described her decision as “sad and unfortunate.”

Denying that she was joining any other party, Ms. Ilmi regretted that a “brilliant person like Arvind Kejriwal” who espoused the concept of “Swaraj” (collective decision making) for the country, was unable to follow through with the idea even within the party.

Replying to a question, she, however, said that if offered a position of responsibility, she might reconsider her decision.

On his part, in a letter to AAP’s Karnataka convener Prithvi Reddy, Capt. Gopinath slammed Mr. Kejriwal for his “shoot-and-scoot politics”, and questioned his refusal to furnish a bail bond in the defamation case filed against him by Bharatiya Janata Party’s Nitin Gadkari.

Capt. Gopinath, who is at present in France, told The Hindu that he had joined the AAP in the belief that it was a party with a difference. “The anti-corruption campaign which it launched came about as a breath of fresh air,” he said.

However, “I have had a series of differences on certain matters and I have brought it to the notice of people concerned. I am not in favour of the recent actions of Mr Arvind Kejriwal and decided to quit ,” he said.

(With inputs from S. Rajendran and Afshan Yasmeen in Bangalore)