While Shazia Ilmi’s resignation from all posts may have come as a big jolt to the AAP, rumblings of discontent are not new to the party. The one-and-a-half-year old party has seen several high-profile members express their displeasure with the leadership. The reasons for their discontent have been similar to those aired by Ilmi, mainly, lack of internal democracy.
Consider these instances:
In January 2014, there was a showdown between the AAP leadership and its Laxmi Nagar MLA Vinod Kumar Binny. He first rebelled in the wake of the Delhi Assembly elections, because he was unhappy that he was not given a ministerial berth. Later, Binny revolted again calling Kejriwal dictatorial and said it was just a small group of people which took all decisions in the AAP.
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On February 1, in the aftermath of AAP leader and former minister Somnath Bharti’s raid in Khirki Extension, former IFS officer Madhu Bhaduri resigned from the party saying “the party was run as a khap panchayat”. She alleged that she had not been allowed to make her point at a party meeting and that women seemed to have no place in the party.
March 11 saw the departure of founding member Ashok Agarwal who in his letter of resignation expressed unhappiness with the ticket distribution process that the party had undertaken for the Lok Sabha polls. He wrote, “The movement seems to have become directionless, causing doubts in the minds of people and even in people like me who are today feeling that the party is functioning like a private company. The connect of Aam Aadmi is on the wane and a group of elite individuals is promoted to take over the party.”
On April 28, the AAP expelled Ashwini Upadhyaya for repeatedly making “anti-party” remarks. Upadhyaya said the “ideology with which the AAP had been formed had been lost and the common man was feeling cheated”. He questioned Kejriwal’s decision to resign as chief minister without a referendum, as had taken place when he assumed office. Upadhyaya too alleged that a small group of people were taking decisions in the party.