Senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Ashutosh today dropped a bombshell when he announced that he is no longer associated with the Arvind Kejriwal-led political party. The resignation comes as a massive setback for Kejriwal who has seen scores of top party leaders, including a few founding members, distancing themselves from the Delhi Chief Minister. After Ashutosh announced to quit the AAP citing ‘very very’ personal reasons, Kejriwal refused to accept his resignation saying ‘not in this life’. Party spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said that Ashutosh’s resignation has not been accepted yet and he has been asked to reconsider it.
As the journalist-turned-politician quit the party today, a look back at the years since the party came into existence shows that it has had its fair share of highs and lows. And part of the responsibility for the position AAP finds itself in — both good and bad — has been a result of the leaders of the party. Of course, Kejriwal’s appeal did get him a resounding mandate in Delhi, but the results in the party’s ambitious forays elsewhere have been modest. But at the heart of the numerous controversies that the party has found itself mired in is due to the unceremonious exit of many of its leaders from the party, be it due to difference of opinion or plain disapproval of Kejriwal’s style of functioning.
Here are some prominent leaders who are no longer with the party since its inception in November 2012:
Yogendra Yadav: Social activist Yogendra Yadav had joined the party in 2012. But three years later in 2015, he was expelled from AAP for his alleged involvement in anti-party activities. Yadav had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 general election from Gurgaon constituency. Yadav was a member of AAP’s national executive. After his expulsion, Yadav formed a new political outfit Swaraj India.
Prashant Bhushan: The senior lawyer was a co-founder of the Aam Aadmi Party. Bhushan was also expelled from the party along with Yogendra Yadav in 2015 for his alleged involvement in anti-party activities. Bhushan during his stint with the AAP had accused PM Narendra Modi of being ‘corrupt’ and ‘puppet’ of the Reliance Industries. Both Bhushan and Yadav had been an integral part of the Anna movement and also acted as the brains behind the sensational allegations that Kejriwal levelled against several leaders and businessmen at his famed press conferences.
Vinod Kumar Binny: He was a member of Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aamdi Party (AAP) between 2013 and 2014. He was elected as an MLA from Laxmi Nagar assembly seat in 2013. Before this, he had successfully contested elections as an independent candidate. Later, he had quit the party and joined the BJP. In the 2015 Assembly polls, he had unsuccessfully contested assembly polls from the Patparganj constituency against Manish Sisodia. Binny has accused Kejriwal of running the party like a fiefdom and said that the AAP convenor doesn’t like any dissent and loses his temper if someone disapproves of his decision.
Shazia Ilmi: She was also an active member of the Aam Aadmi Party. Ilmi was seen as a secular face of the AAP but she resigned from all party posts citing ‘lack of internal democracy’ in May 2014. She later joined the BJP as the spokesperson of the party in January 2015.
Ashwini Upadhyay: He was a founding member of the Aam Aadmi Party. But in 2014, he was expelled from the party by Arvind Kejriwal for speaking against him. A national council member, Upadhyay was also the convenor of AAP’s legal cell. Upadhyay had later joined the BJP. He had raised the issue of the dubious donations being received by Manish Sisodia’s NGO.
GR Gopinath: He had quit the Aam Aadmi Party in May 2014 citing growing differences with the party leadership. He had openly criticised the leadership style of Kejriwal.
MS Dhir: He had served as the Speaker of Delhi Assembly between 2013 and February 2014. He was elected to the Assembly from Jangpura seat on an AAP ticket. Dhir quit the AAP in November 2014 and joined to BJP. In February 2014, he had contested the assembly elections on a BJP ticket but lost his seat to AAP’s Praveen Kumar. Dhir had quit after a public spat with Arvind Kejriwal for praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mayank Gandhi: He was a member of the AAP’s national executive till 2015. Gandhi had also served as the chief of AAP’s Maharashtra unit. But he quit the national executive in November 2015 accusing Arvind Kejriwal of deviating from the path of ‘honest politics’ and ‘using’ party workers to serve his own interest.
Anjali Damania: She came into limelight when she levelled corruption charges against BJP leader Nitin Gadkari. She had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 general elections from Nagpur on an AAP ticket. She was an active member of Anna Hazare’s India Against Corruption movement. She joined AAP after a split in IAC. Damaniya had, however, in March 2015 quit the AAP amidst allegations of horse trading against Arvind Kejriwal. But according to reports, she withdrew her resignation later.
Surajit Dasgupta: Dasgupta was a member of AAP’s national council. Interestingly, Dasgupta had left the party way before the 2013 Assembly polls in Delhi citing lack of internal democracy in the party.