In jolt to Congress, Anand Sharma does a Ghulam Nabi Azad by quitting key post

Action comes as Congress prepares for party president polls

August 21, 2022 02:43 pm | Updated 11:38 pm IST - New Delhi

Former Union Minister Anand Sharma. File

Former Union Minister Anand Sharma. File | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

In a sign of growing trouble for the Congress, senior leader Anand Sharma on August 21 resigned as the chairman of the steering committee for Himachal Pradesh where elections are expected by the end of the year.

Mr. Sharma’s resignation letter comes just days after his colleague Ghulam Nabi Azad resigned from the chairmanship of the Campaign Committee for Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

The timing of these developments assume special political significance as it comes just when the Congress gets ready to declare its final schedule to elect a new party president.

Both Mr. Azad and Mr. Sharma are key members of G-23, the ginger group that had written to party president Sonia Gandhi two years ago to push for internal reforms including having elected bodies from the Block level to the Congress Working Committee (CWC).

Coming, as it does, in the middle of organisational changes, the latest round of resignations by promiment G-23 faces could set the stage for another round of confrontation between reformists and the loyalists of the Gandhi family.

In his resignation letter, Mr Sharma is said to have told Congress President Sonia Gandhi that he felt ‘humiliated and his self-respect was non-negotiable’. However, he assured her that he will continue to campaign for the party candidates in the State.

“There is an internal conspiracy to sabotage Congress’ wining prospects with the help of people inimical to the Congress. My colleagues and I are determined to resist it and will expose them,” Mr. Sharma, a member of the CWC, told The Hindu.

In a series of tweets, Mr. Sharma said,“I have resigned with a heavy heart from the Chairmanship of the Steering Committee of the Congress for the Himachal Elections. Reiterating that I am a lifelong congressman and remain firm on my convictions”.

 “Committed to Congress ideology that runs in my blood, let there be no doubts about this! However, given the continuing exclusion and insults, as a self-respecting person- I was left with no choice,”he added.

Mr. Sharma, who was appointed as the head of the Steering Committee on April 26 this year, didn’t elaborate on the ‘insults’ publicly but he said to have mentioned them in detail in his letter to the Congress President.

Sources close to Mr. Sharma said he was never invited to the meetings of the core group of Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) on election strategy and preparations that were held in Delhi as well as in Shimla.

On June 20, meetings of senior leaders including PCC President, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader and chairman of the Campaign Committee were held but Mr. Sharma wasn’t invited, the source said.

“On August 7 and 8, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) inicharge and central AICC observers visited Shimla where they met members of the core group, senior leaders but the Chairman of the Steering Committee was neither informed nor invited,” the source said.

He added that the multiplicity of committees and overlapping of functions required clarity for functional purposes and Mr. Sharma had sought clarity on the mandate and function of the Steering Committee from general secretary organisation K.C. Venugopal.

Though senior leaders refrained from commenting on the latest developments publicly, some leaders, who are seen to be close to the Gandhi family, argued that the G-23 veterans may have been upset after being ignored for Rajya Sabha berths.

“There is no core group for Himachal Pradesh and Anand ji had to convene meetings as chairman of the Steering Committee,”said a senior leader.

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