In a jolt to the Maharashtra unit of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), 376 members claimed to have resigned from the party. The list includes several office-bearers as well who now say the party has “deviated from its core values”. These members would now work under the banner of Swaraj Samvad, an alternate platform started by expelled leaders Yogendra Yadav and others.
AAP national spokesperson Preeti Sharma Menon, however, said the party had not received any resignation.
Addressing a press conference in Pune Monday, former Western Maharashtra convenor Maruti Bhapkar said the 376 members decided to resign as the events unfolding following the controversial removal of Yadav and Prashant Bhushan had brought to light the “real face of the party”.
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“There is no place for democracy in AAP. In reality, the party is worse than BJP or Congress,” he said.
Bhapkar accused Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of “double-speak” and said the latter was trying to scuttle any opposition within the party. “The events of the recent past showed us the real face of Kejriwal and till now we were duped by him,” he said. Bhapkar also said many like him were “taken for a ride” by Kejriwal.
After the controversial national council meet held in Delhi in March, differences in the AAP had come out in the open with Yadav and Bhushan being expelled for alleged anti-party activities. Yadav and Bhushan had subsequently announced the formation of Swaraj Samvad
that would act as their banner in the future.
Bhapkar as well as other leaders did not rule out Swaraj Samvad taking up an active political role, including fighting local body elections soon.
Yadav’s ouster had been particularly harmful for the state unit of the party. While Medha Patkar has already resigned in protest, Bhapkar and others Monday claimed more resignations would follow.
Manav Kamble, another leader, said Swaraj Samvad would be able to from district-level committees in 19 districts in the state, adding that rest of the districts would be touched too. A special series of reach-out programmes would commence from May 31, which will see the expelled leaders touring the state.
Asked about AAP leader Ashish Khaitan’s allegations of corruption against Bhushan, Bhapkar said they were baseless. “Bhushan has been involved in multiple PILs against both the Congress and the BJP governments. The government would have surely taken cognisance of any cases of corruption if there were any,” he said.
Efforts to contact Subhash Ware, the state convenor, was not successful.
Meanwhile, Preeti Sharma Menon said in Mumbai the party had not received any resignation. “None of our districts have received any resignation. AAP Maharashtra is a strong unit, not affected by such rumours. We do believe around 40-50 people met Maruti Bhapkar today. It’s sad they choose to go but it doesn’t really make too much of a difference,” she said.