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regular-article-logo Friday, 24 May 2024

Anand Sharma quits as chairman of steering committee of Himachal Congress

Former union minister's resignation comes soon after another leader of the G23 grouping Ghulam Nabi Azad quit as chairman of the campaign committee in Jammu and Kashmir a few days ago

PTI New Delhi Published 21.08.22, 01:59 PM
Anand Sharma

Anand Sharma Twitter

In a jolt to the Congress ahead of Himachal Pradesh polls, senior leader Anand Sharma on Sunday resigned from the chairmanship of the party's steering committee for the state, saying he was left with no choice after the "continuing exclusion and insults".

Sharma, in a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, is learnt to have said he was not consulted on the planning for the assembly elections and cited several examples where he was not invited for discussions.

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The resignation is a fresh setback to the Congress' efforts to placate dissenters after another leader of the G23 grouping Ghulam Nabi Azad stepped down as chairman of the campaign committee in Jammu and Kashmir a few days ago.

"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," Sharma said on Twitter

He wrote to the Congress president that his self-respect is "non-negotiable" and he has thus resigned from the post, sources told PTI. However, he told Gandhi that he will continue to campaign for the party candidates in the state.

The Congress leader is embarking on a mass contact programme from Tuesday and will meet his supporters and party workers in Kasauli and other places.

A former Union minister and deputy leader of the Congress in Rajya Sabha, Sharma was appointed chairman of the steering committee in Himachal Pradesh on April 26.

Both Azad and Sharma are prominent leaders of the G23 grouping which has been critical of the decisions of the party leadership.

The grouping comprising prominent veterans, including Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Manish Tewari, has been insisting on genuine elections right from the block up to the CWC level.

The Congress president on April 26 appointed a new HPCC president, CLP leader and chairman of the campaign committee. The AICC had also announced eight other committees, including a steering committee with Anand Sharma as chairman and Asha Kumari as convenor.

Sharma had reportedly written to AICC general secretary K C Venugopal, seeking clarity on the multiplicity of committees and overlapping of functions.

He had requested Venugopal and AICC in-charge Rajiv Shukla to clarify the mandate of the steering committee.

The sources said the senior Congress leader told the party president that meetings of the core group of the HPCC and senior leaders on election strategy and preparations have since been held both in Delhi and Shimla.

Meetings of senior leaders, including the PCC president, CLP leader and the chairman of the campaign committee and those of other committees were held for election preparations on June 20, while the in-charge and central AICC observers visited Shimla on August 7 and 8.

However, the chairman of the steering committee was neither informed nor invited to any of the meetings, he told Gandhi.

The Congress is seeking to wrest power from the BJP in Himachal Pradesh in the assembly polls slated later this year.

The party's former working president Pawan Kajal and another MLA quit the Congress earlier this week to join the BJP.

Sharma, who first contested assembly elections in 1982 and was given a Rajya Sabha ticket by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1984, had been an Upper House member ever since and occupied several key positions in the party.

Though Sharma had lost in the 1982 assembly election to BJP stalwart Daulat Ram Chauhan, he filed an election petition in the high court, challenging the election on the ground of alleged "malpractice", and won.

Later, the Supreme Court also upheld the high court's decision and re-election was held.

The sources said Sharma was later called to work in Delhi by Indira Gandhi along with Rajiv Gandhi, and he was then made the Indian Youth Congress president.

Sharma has also been one of the first spokespersons of the party.

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