Shazia at the news conference in Delhi on Saturday. (PTI)
New Delhi, May 24: Arvind Kejriwal’s efforts to bounce back by choosing jail over bail suffered a blow today with Shazia Ilmi quitting the Aam Aadmi Party after accusing him of running it with a “crony clique”.
The resignation of Shazia, a founder-member of the AAP and its most powerful woman face, comes at a time Kejriwal is desperately trying to use his jail stint to revive his political stock after the drubbing in the Lok Sabha elections.
Kejriwal has been sent to judicial custody till June 6 for refusing to file a bail bond in a defamation case lodged by BJP leader Nitin Gadkari.
“My decision to leave the party is triggered by the lack of inner-party democracy, especially from a party that constantly talks of swaraj. We fight cronyism but we have a crony clique that runs the party and takes impulsive decisions of which we hear about in the media,” Shazia said at a news conference.
Colleague Yogendra Yadav tried to cajole Shazia not to quit but she wouldn’t bend. “I am saddened by Shaziaji’s resignation. We tried to persuade her to stay but sadly we couldn’t convince her,” he said.
Shazia had reportedly been feeling left out of the decision-making in the party — she claimed today she was being “systematically sidelined” — but her defeat from Ghaziabad in the polls seems to have precipitated matters.
She slammed Kejriwal’s latest theatrics of staying in jail on matters of “principle”. “My advice to him is he should furnish the bail bond, be released and go out and meet his supporters…. We need to evolve and not just assume the garb of agitation. We have to re-invent ourselves.”
Shazia’s resignation and her attack on Kejriwal have brought out rifts within the rookie party. Indications are more dissenting voices could come out in the open.
Party insiders said Kumar Vishwas, who lost to Rahul Gandhi from Amethi, too was feeling “sidelined”. Maqsood-ul Hassan Qasmi, another founder-member, quit today.
Shazia is the second prominent woman to walk out of the AAP. Before the polls, Madhu Bhaduri, another founder-member, had dissociated herself from the party after she was allegedly not allowed to speak at a meeting.