In a double blow to the Aam Aadmi Party, Shazia Ilmi and Captain Gopinath quit the party.
Ilmi, one of the founder members of the AAP, resigned from all party posts citing lack of "inner-party democracy". Disapproving of "jail politics" of the AAP, Ilmi also claimed that a "crony clique" around its chief Arvind Kejriwal is calling the shots in the party.
"After much thought and deliberation I have decided to give up my membership of AAP and resign from all positions within the party," she told reporters at a press conference.
Ilmi, however, clarified that she is not joining any other party. "My decision to leave the party is triggered by the lack of inner-party democracy, especially from a party that constantly talks of Swaraj (self rule)," she said.
Attacking some AAP leaders who are considered close to Kejriwal, she said, "We fight against cronyism but we have a crony clique which runs the party and takes impulsive decisions which we learn about later. I find it amazing that we cannot follow the principles of swaraj within our own party."
"When a brilliant person like Arvind who espoused the concept of Swaraj, of collective making is unable to follow it personally within the party, then doesn't it become incumbent to point out the same," she added.
Founder of Air Deccan, Gopinath, quit the party citing growing differences within the party leadership and criticised Kejriwal for "shoot and scoot" politics.
In a communication to AAP's Karnataka Convenor Prithvi Reddy, he said, "I would like to resign from the membership of the Aam Admi Party with immediate effect because of increasing differences with the party leadership and its ways."
Gopinath, who joined AAP in January this year, said he had "expressed most of my views also in the media including today" and wished "the party well in its future endeavours".
When contacted, Gopinath confirmed the development in a phone call from Toulouse in France where the headquarters of aircraft manufacturing major, Airbus, is located.
In a blog titled 'Has Kejriwal lost his way' today, he criticised the functioning of the AAP chief.
He said when Kejriwal took on Robert Vadra on corruption charges, "The BJP loved it and also went in for the kill against the Congress", adding that Kejriwal then took on Nitin Gadkari.
"Kejriwal was brazen and broke that rule. He went for the jugular. What was rumoured in whispers, he stood up to in public, which made him the darling of the people and the media.... Kejriwal did not stop there. He made allegations against other high and mighty of the land," the blog said.
"It's one thing to gossip about it in private but when one holds a responsible position as head of a political party, one has to take responsibility and not, as some one described it, indulge in shoot and scoot politics, denigrating people's reputation, however credible the rumours may seem and however tempting the chance to score brownie points or capture media attention and public sympathy as a crusader against corruption," Gopinath said in the blog.
Referring to the defamation case, he said Kejriwal committed a mistake by not appearing in court. "His lawyers argued he was busy with elections and pleaded for time. That was the first mistake. If one has time to accuse some one, then one must also find the time to appear in court and defend oneself and not only present evidence to prove the allegations but also press charges for prosecution," he said.
Noting that Kejriwal refused to furnish a bail bond pleading that he had not committed any crime, as his action was political, he termed it as "convoluted logic". "His actions of naming high profile politicians or businessmen may have a worthy political cause of exposing corruption in government and crony capitalism, but it cannot by any stretch of imagination be equated with political activism," he said.
Gopinath had joined the party in January stating that "Kejriwal's AAP is seen transforming that hope of Anna's fight against corruption into action." He had however openly slammed the decision of the AAP government in Delhi to reject Foreign Direct Investment in retail, saying the party is "running in danger" of being branded like other parties of resorting to cheap and populist measures.