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HindustanTimes Tue,21 Oct 2014

Shazia Ilmi, Captain Gopinath quit Aam Aadmi Party

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 24, 2014
First Published: 14:12 IST(24/5/2014) | Last Updated: 19:13 IST(24/5/2014)

The Aam Aadmi Party showed signs of disintegration on Saturday with the resignation of two of its members – journalist-turned politician Shazia Ilmi and GR Gopinath who launched India's first low-cost carrier.

Ilmi said the "lack of inner democracy" within AAP triggered her resignation.

"There is a crony clique that runs the AAP," Ilmi told a press conference where she announced her decision to quit.

She said while AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal talked of 'swaraj (freedom), the party itself was undemocratic, and decisions were being taken in a very arbitrary manner.

"It is not enough to just name corporates and politicians," she said, referring to a number of anti-graft "exposes" by Kejriwal, which brought the party into limelight.

Ilmi said she will not join any other political party and her good wishes will always be with AAP.

"I could have got better jobs, but I gave full dedication to AAP," she added, while complaining that she has been "systematically marginalised for raising the voice of dissent".

She said a whisper campaign had been started that she had been upset with being fielded from Ghaziabad.

Meanwhile, Captain Gopinath, the Bangalore-based founder of the now defunct Air Deccan too quit the party, citing "increasing difference with the party leadership and its ways".

Captain Gopinath, who is presently in France, emailed his resignation to party spokesman Prithvi Reddy this morning. Gopinath, who joined AAP in January this year, said he had expressed most of his views in the media and wished "the party well in its future endeavours".

When contacted, Gopinath confirmed the development in a phone call from Toulouse in France where the headquarters of aircraft manufacturing major, Airbus, is located.

He had founded the first low-cost carrier Air Deccan in 2003, which was taken over by Vijay Mallya and named 'Kingfisher Red' that has now closed down.

In a blog titled 'Has Kejriwal lost his way' today, he criticised the functioning of AAP chief.

He said when Kejriwal took on Robert Vadra on corruption charges, "the BJP loved it and also went in for the kill against the Congress", Gopinath said, adding that Kejriwal then took on Nitin Gadkari.

"Kejriwal was brazen and broke that rule. He went for the jugular. What was rumoured in whispers, he stood up to in public, which made him the darling of the people and the media.... Kejriwal did not stop there. He made allegations against other high and mighty of the land," the blog said.

"It's one thing to gossip about it in private but when one holds a responsible position as head of a political party, one has to take responsibility and not, as someone described it, indulge in shoot and scoot politics, denigrating people's reputation, however credible the rumours may seem and however tempting the chance to score brownie points or capture media attention and public sympathy as a crusader against corruption," Gopinath said in the blog.

Dissent within the AAP came to the fore on Friday as the party's foot-soldiers questioned the leadership over the debacle in the Lok Sabha elections and demanded dissolution of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC), even as party leaders tried to pacify them.

At a meeting organised to discuss future course of action for the party after its convener Kejriwal's judicial custody was extended, many volunteers sought answers about the functioning within the party.

Some volunteers were seen holding placards with messages, "Who will own the responsibility of defeat (in the Lok Sabha elections)?" and "PAC should be dissolved" at the meeting.

In a bid to pacify them, party leaders asked the cadre to write their queries and grievances on a paper, which many did even as a few grumbled. "This system does not work as party hardly gets back on these questions," an AAP volunteer said.

Party leaders, however, admitted there was a lack of communication with the party volunteers, but tried to rejuvenate them with encouraging talks.

"There has been a lack of communication in the party because of the limited resources," party Delhi unit secretary and AAP spokesperson Dilip Pandey told volunteers.

"We admit that we have faults and we have to build the organisation. We have to improve the system," party leader and Political Affairs Committee (PAC) member Gopal Rai said.

"Congress is more than 125 years old and we are just one and half years old. Still we have done well," he said.

Senior party leader Manish Sisodia lauded the cadres for their work despite the dismal performance saying its vote share had increased in the Lok Sabha polls compared to Delhi elections.

"Who says we have not done well? Ours is a one and half year old party and we have managed to increase our vote share from 29 per cent to 33%. Our candidate in Udaipur has managed to get more than 1.5 lakh votes where senior party leaders did not campaign," Sisodia said.

(With PTI inputs)


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