HS Phoolka decided to exit politics as he wants to dedicate all his time to social work.
Turning the anti-corruption movement into a political party wasn't a good decision, said senior lawyer HS Phoolka, who resigned from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Friday. The former legislator from Punjab, who was the leader of opposition for some time, said that AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal had tried to stop him, but he insisted on leaving the party. He also clarified that he won't be contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Mr Phoolka, who has been representing victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in courts for the last three decades, said the biggest reason behind his decision to exit politics was his wish to dedicate all his time to social work.
He was 28 in 1984 and had just started practising law when around 3,000 people were killed when mobs led by Congress leaders targeted Sikhs after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31.
Moved by the plight of the families of the victims, he decided to fight for them for free.
"We took on former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's government which was so powerful. We never thought any Sikh would stand against it. But we got support from civil society, human rights groups, media and we won the fight with Sajjan Kumar's conviction. We have more such fights to win," he said.
The 63-year-old now wants to start a movement like the one started by activist Anna Hazare in 2012. Many who eventually left the AAP, including lawyers and doctors, need to get together to shape a movement parallel to political parties, he said.
"Converting anti-corruption movement into a political party in 2012 was wrong," he said at the Press Club of India in Delhi. The AAP was formed by Arvind Kejriwal and others following the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare.
Mr Phoolka said that it was a huge movement and it was difficult to ignore. "Political parties had to listen to us. Now we need a doosri (second) Anna movement, a parallel force that isn't scared to call a spade a spade," he said.
Mr Phoolka's resignation from the AAP had come amid speculation of a possible alliance between the Congress and the AAP for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. In the last one year, he didn't participate in any of the party's activities and stayed away from politics.
But he refused to comment on Arvind Kejriwal, the AAP and the party's flip-flop on a resolution aimed at withdrawing late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's Bharat Ratna over his alleged failure to contain violence in 1984.
"To fight for 1984 riots victims is my life's mission. Sajjan Kumar's conviction has been a huge victory for all of us. Now we have to ensure that Congress leaders Jagdish Tytler and Kamal Nath are also put behind bars and this battle will be fought through a common platform," the former AAP leader said.