After Anand Sharma publicly expressed his displeasure with Congress, the Sonia Gandhi-led party tried to placate him ahead of the Himachal Pradesh elections. After resigning from the chairmanship of the steering committee of Congress for the HP polls, he revealed that he was left with no other choice owing to his exclusion from meetings and repeated insults meted out to him. After meeting the Congress president at her 10 Janpath residence on Monday, AICC Himachal Pradesh in-charge Rajeev Shukla called on Sharma.
Speaking to the media thereafter, Congress MP Rajeev Shukla remarked, “Anand Sharma is a senior leader of our party. He is a member of the CWC. He is a member of the Political Affairs Committee. He is a member of the state Election Committee. That’s why it is my responsibility to meet him. I have good coordination with him. He is completely dedicated to the party. So, there is no question of any problem.”
He added, “It (Sharma’s resignation) is an internal matter and he is not dissatisfied. He himself said that he would campaign for the party”. Incidentally, another G23 leader Ghulam Nabi Azad also refused to take charge as the Campaign Committee chairman of Congress for the J&K polls.
I’m state in charge. It’s my responsibility to meet him. He is devoted to party & there is no problem. If there is anything it will be clarified: Congress leader Rajeev Shukla after meeting Anand Sharma who recently resigned as the chairman of Steering Committee of Himachal polls pic.twitter.com/MKYkco4tXP
— ANI (@ANI) August 22, 2022
Anand Sharma’s association with G23
In a letter addressed to Sonia Gandhi on 23 August 2020, 23 senior party leaders observed that the uncertainty over the leadership and the drift in the party have weakened Congress and demoralized the workers. The signatories to the letter included Sharma, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor, Vivek Tankha, Mukul Wasnik, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Prithviraj Chavan, Milind Deora, Sandeep Dixit and Raj Babbar. The G23 leaders stressed the need for full-time leadership and conducting elections at all levels including the Congress Working Committee.
Sharma, in particular, hasn’t hesitated in publicly airing his grievances. For instance, he opposed Congress’ alliance with the Indian Secular Front headed by influential cleric Abbas Siddiqui for the 2021 West Bengal Assembly polls. While he argued that this tie-up is against Congress’ core ideology, the Sonia Gandhi-led party still went ahead with the alliance. In the last couple of years, the former Union Minister is perceived to have been sidelined within Congress and was even denied another Rajya Sabha stint after his term ended this year.
On July 7, sources indicated that Sharma met BJP president JP Nadda sparking speculation of his quitting Congress. While refraining from confirming or denying this, the Congress leader told the media that he has the right to openly meet Nadda if he wants to as they share a social relationship. Moreover, he revealed that the Himachal Pradesh University Alumni Association had invited him and Nadda to felicitate them.