In what appeared to be a major breach in Maharashtra unit of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Maruti Bhapkar, one of its founding members, on Monday quit the party along with 376 activists, condemning the "dictatorial" attitude of AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal.
Holding a press conference in Pune this evening, Bhapkar declared allegiance to 'Swaraj Abhiyan' launched by the expelled leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav.
Bhapkar, who was convener of AAP's western Maharashtra unit, said in a letter sent to AAP's national convener and Delhi chief minister Kejriwal today, "I wish to resign...and not be a party to the growing sins of yours and your coterie".
"Swaraj Abhiyan, which is a movement at present, can become a party after getting feedback of workers at the national level. We feel that a majority of our supporters are in favour of floating a new party," he said at the press conference.
In the letter, Bhapkar cited instances of Kejriwal's objectionable style of functioning, including the "dictatorial manner" in which March 28 national council meeting was conducted and the "illegal and immoral" manner in which Yadav, Bhushan, Ananth Kumar and Ajit Jha were prevented from speaking, as well as the manhandling of Ramzan Choudhary.
Swaraj Abhiyan will initiate a free dialogue with people to know their problems and launch agitations at various levels starting from the village units, he said.
"Hundreds of active erstwhile AAP workers will build up and strengthen the Swaraj Abhiyan in Maharashtra, starting with meetings in 19 districts," he added.
A list of activists, who have resigned along with Bhapkar, was released at the press conference. It includes 32 office-bearers from 19 districts and five members who had contested the last Lok Sabha elections on the AAP ticket.
Bhapkar led the workers in the mass resignation programme held in Pune.
"We are now with Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan to strengthen their hands to afloat the concept of Swaraj throughout the country in true sense," he added.
"You can think about the insensitivity of so-called leader Arvind Kejriwal that a farmer died before his eyes and he kept on his political speech," Bhapkar said.
"Not only from Pune, but volunteers from Mumbai, Nashik, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Aurangabad, Navi Mumbai etc also had come to Pune to quit AAP," he added.
Manav Kamble, another former senior leader from AAP, has also joined hands with Bhapkar.
However, a senior AAP leader downplayed the resignations and said that this is not going to affect the party in anyway.
"Only handful party workers are leaving the party and that comprises no senior leaders or workers. So I don't think that they would leave any impact on the party," said Ravi Srivastava, member of State Executive Committee.
Subhash Ware, head of AAP unit of Maharashtra, could not be contacted as he was convening a meeting of district workers of Ahmednagar on Monday.