Exits and expulsions mean the AAP’s promising restart may not last long

Going gets tough.
Going gets tough.
Image: Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee
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Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of New Delhi, has not exactly had the luxury of a honeymoon period.

Despite a landslide victory in the recently concluded Delhi elections—Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party (AAP) had won 67 seats out of 70 in February this year—the party that he helped found is slowly tearing apart.

While some founding members left the party due to ideological differences with Kejriwal, other members were expelled.

Here are the ten high-profile exits from the AAP since November 2012.

Anjali Damania

Damania, the AAP’s Maharashtra convener announced on Twitter on March 11 that she is leaving the party. “I quit. I have not come into AAP for this nonsense. I believed him. I backed Arvind for principles not horse-trading,” Damania tweeted.

She posted a link to an India TV news report in which Kejriwal was allegedly seeking the support of Congress members of legislative assembly (MLAs) instead of going for fresh elections last year. The AAP had been in power from Dec. 28, 2013 to Feb 14. 2014.

Prashant Bhushan

Senior lawyer at India’s Supreme Court, Prashant Bhushan and his father, Shanti Bhushan were among the founding members of the AAP. Last week, Bhushan was removed from the party’s political affairs committee after he accused Kejriwal of making the party a “one-man show.”

There are also impending talks that Yogendra Yadav, another senior AAP leader, and Prashant Bhushan may be asked to resign from the party later this month. Some party members have written to Kejriwal asking for their removal.

Maninder Singh Dhir

In November 2014, two months before the elections in New Delhi, MS Dhir, former speaker of the Delhi assembly quit the AAP to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He lost the election this year, but Dhir’s departure was a big blow to the party as he had publicly challenged Kejriwal’s leadership skills. “I was upset with what Kejriwal and the party had worked for. Kejriwal hurt the emotions of the masses, which supported him, by resigning as CM,” Dhir had said.

S P Udayakumar

Udayakumar, who is a co-ordinator of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, quit in October last year but continues to support the party. He is leading an agitation against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project. Udayakumar had said that he has to move with people from all walks of life and hence had to disassociate himself from any particular political party.

Yogendra Yadav

In June last year, Yogendra Yadav had quit from all official posts in the AAP over differences with another  member, Naveen Jaihind. In March this year, after the party’s victory in Delhi, Yadav was removed from the political affairs committee (PAC), the AAP’s top decision-making team. He and Kejriwal did not see eye to eye.

Kejriwal even threatened to quit as the convener of the party until Yadav and Bhushan were removed from the PAC. Yadav has not quit the party, but his dismissal from the top decision-making body has exposed deep dissent in India’s most promising political outfit.

Shazia Ilmi

A founding member of the AAP, and an ex-journalist, Ilmi quit the party on May 24, 2014, citing lack of democratic decision-making in the party. “Arvind has shot the messenger, I was consistently sidelined in the party,” Ilmi had said at the time of her exit. In January 2015, she joined the BJP. She did not contest the elections in New Delhi in February.

Captain Gopinath

Gopinath, the founder of Air Deccan, a low-cost airline, quit the party on May 24, 2014, five months after joining. Gopinath said he was disappointed and disillusioned with the party. “They shone and rose like a meteor and faded out as quickly,” he wrote in an editorial. He has not yet joined any other political party.

Vinod Kumar Binny

Binny was expelled from the AAP on Jan 26. 2014, after he called Kejriwal “a liar” and “a dictator.” A year later, on Jan 15, he joined the BJP. “Had joined the AAP, but at the time didn’t know all that was mere drama,” he said.

Nutan Thakur

The Lucknow-based journalist and social rights activist quit the party in November 2013 after a sting operation revealed that some of her colleagues allegedly took money for participating in an agitation.

Madhu Bhaduri

A former diplomat and among the founders of the party, Madhu Bhaduri quit in Feb. 2014 after Somnath Bharti, a minister in Kejriwal’s old government illegally detained a group of African women on suspicion they were part of a prostitution and drugs racket.

“I have just one issue, and that is humanity,” Bhaduri had said. ”And women are humans. In this party, women are not considered humans.”

Ashok Agarwal

Educationalist and child rights activist, Ashok Agarwal had quit the party in March 2014 alleging that it worked like a private firm, which only wanted to promote elite individuals. “The movement seems to have become directionless,” Agarwal had written in a letter to the party, ”causing doubts in the mind of people and even in those like me who are feeling that the party is functioning like a private limited company.”