Shazia Ilmi, once a top Aam Admi Party (AAP) leader who joined the BJP last year, said that “things are good” in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and one can talk about his/her views openly, which was not the case in AAP.
In a conversation with The Sunday Guardian, Ilmi talked about BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu quitting the Rajya Sabha and his speculated entry into AAP. According to Ilmi, Arvind Kejriwal is not a team person and Sidhu’s personality is such that he will not let anyone “overpower him”. Excerpts:
Q. You left the Aam Admi Party and joined BJP, whereas speculation is high that Sidhu has left the BJP to join AAP. Your comments.
A: I didn’t just leave AAP, I was asked to go. Anybody who disagrees with Kejriwal loyalists will have to leave AAP. I never took a single penny for both the elections I fought. I had put my blind faith in Kejriwal when he told me to fight elections from Ghaziabad. I worked with AAP since the days of its inception. I gave my time and effort and put all my heart for AAP’s success.
However, Sidhu was made by the BJP. He started his political career with the BJP. He is a two-time MP and that makes him an important player, but he made the choice to leave the party that created him.
The difference between me and him is that I had become part of AAP to fight corruption, I left AAP when they didn’t seem to be delivering on their own words. Nine months later, I joined BJP because Modiji was the only other leader who was talking about fighting corruption. But Sidhu is leaving BJP and aspiring for bigger roles elsewhere.
Q. If Sidhu joins AAP and gets a prominent position, will he be branded an opportunist?
A: I am not saying so, but most people would call him an opportunist. All the problems that he has attributed to Punjab have been there for a while, so why decide to leave now right before the elections? If these issues mattered so much to him, why did he accept the BJP Rajya Sabha seat in the first place?
Q. While it lasted, your role in AAP was crucial. Are you receiving similar treatment in BJP?
A: Things are good in BJP and one can talk about his/her views openly, but that was not the case in AAP. There has been a lot of scepticism about BJP’s alleged communal role in society. The BJP is not a communal party, as it stands for the nation’s people.
Q. If Sidhu confirms his entry in AAP, what do you think will be the dynamics in AAP?
A: I can’t say what will exactly happen, but for sure it should be interesting. Kejriwal is not a team person and, as far as I know, Sidhu’s personality is such that he won’t let anyone overpower him. Even if this friendship materialises, I don’t think it will last too long.