new delhi : India’s upstart anti-corruption party suffered a blow Saturday when two of their leaders quit after accusing their high-profile chief of impulsive decision-making.
Shazia Ilmi and G.R. Gopinath of the Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party said they did not approve of the ‘sensationalism’ agenda followed by the fledgling party’s leader Arvind Kejriwal. They were referring to Kejriwal’s recent decision of choosing to remain behind bars rather than pay bail of Rs 10,000 ($170) in a defamation case.
‘One strongly believes that instead of wasting our collective energy in this bail-jail imbroglio, Arvind (Kejriwal) should actually be spending time with cadres,’ Ilmi, one of the founder members of the party, said in her resignation letter. Kejriwal has been branded a ‘drama queen’ by opponents for choosing to go to jail rather than pay bail during a court hearing on Wednesday. He will remain behind bars till June 6.
The self-styled anti-corruption campaigner served a 49-day stint as Delhi chief minister before quitting, after his party made a spectacular debut in state elections last December.
He has since admitted that his decision to quit in a row over an anti-corruption bill was a mistake. His party won only four seats in India’s recent general election, which the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won by a landslide. Gopinath, one of the many professionals who joined Aam Aadmi Party after it successfully tapped into growing anger among public over widespread corruption, also slammed Kejriwal’s decision to remain in jail.
‘This kind of agitation can’t be equated with activism,’ Gopinath, who founded a low-cost Indian airline, told the NDTV news network. ‘It’s an individual defamation case. you must have patience, if you accuse someone of corruption you have to prove it in court.’ The resignations will have a bearing on the long-term future of the party which political analysts say risks running out of steam.
Another high-profile members of the party, Ashutosh, who uses just one name, has hinted he would seek greener pastures in light of AAP’s poll debacle. ‘Time to think, to introspect, to plan, to move. Life does not stop, it continues,’ he tweeted earlier in the week.