Congress strongman in Himachal Pradesh, Anand Sharma, tendered his resignation as chairman of hill state’s Steering Committee, Saturday. In a letter to Sonia Gandhi, the former Union minister is reported to have noted that “he will not compromise on self-respect.” However, he assured that he will participate in campaigning for Congress candidates.
Party insiders briefed that Sharma felt slighted and “isolated” in recent times when he was not invited to key meetings in Delhi. Significantly, Sharma has been an important member of the G-23, which time and again questioned the party’s internal workings and has upped the ante for organisational changes within the Congress.
The resignation of the Brahmin leader, also credited with having instituted Congress’ student wing NSUI, comes a day after dissident Congress faction G-23 chief and former Union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad expressed displeasure over the functioning of the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, a leader of the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir, was made the chairman of the campaign committee. However, hours later, he resigned from that post. The reason for his abrupt quit is not yet clear. Congressman Tariq Hamid was made vice-president.
Sharma, a former Indian Youth Congress president, is among the party seniors who are believed to be dissatisfied with Rahul Gandhi’s style of functioning. After intervention by Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, Sharma was made the convenor of the committee that presented the economic proposal at the Jaipur session.
Sharma’s resignation is considered a major setback for the Congress, which is going through a generational change and failure simultaneously. Himachal Pradesh goes to polls this year. The Congress is the main Opposition party in the 68-member House, one of the states where there is a direct fight between the BJP and the Congress.
Currently, the BJP has 44 seats while the Congress dominates in 22.
After its sweeping victory in the state’s Mandi Lok Sabha by-poll, (J.P. Nadda’s home turf), the Congress seemed all set in the driver’s seat. However, Sharma’s endgame is expected to dent the party’s prospects in the upcoming Assembly elections.