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Anand Sharma quits as chairman of Steering Committee of Himachal Congress

In a jolt to the Congress ahead of assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, its senior leader Anand Sharma on Sunday resigned from the chairmanship of the party's steering committee for the state

Anand Sharma

Photo: ANI

Press Trust of India New Delhi
In a jolt to the Congress ahead of the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, its senior leader Anand Sharma on Sunday resigned from the chairmanship of the party's steering committee for the state.

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 even invited for discussions.

Sharma wrote to the Congress president in his letter that his self-respect is "non-negotiable" and he has thus resigned from the post, sources told PTI.

His resignation comes soon after another leader of the G23 grouping Ghulam Nabi Azad resigned as chairman of the campaign committee in Jammu and Kashmir a few days ago.

Sharma has told the Congress chief that he has been ignored in the consultation process. 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 up with 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.

Sharma's resignation from the top party position also comes as a blow to the Congress' efforts to placate the "rebels" within. The development may hurt the party's prospects in the assembly polls.

Already the party's former working president Pawn Kala and another MLA quit the Congress earlier this week to join the BJP.

Sharma, who is considered among the tallest leaders of Himachal Pradesh, has reportedly told the Congress president in his letter that his self-respect has been hurt as he has not been consulted or invited to any of the meetings of the party.

The Congress president had on April 26 appointed new HPCC president, CLP leader and chairman of 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 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.

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

Though Sharma had lost the 1982 election to BJP stalwart Daulat Ram Chauhan by only 1,263 votes, he filed an election petition in the high court, challenging the election on grounds of alleged "malpractice", and won.

Later the Supreme Court also upheld the high court's decision and a 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.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Aug 21 2022 | 3:33 PM IST

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