Anand Sharma, who stepped down from the “steering committee” of the Congress’s Himachal Pradesh unit today unleashing a crisis in the state unit, said he has been “vilified and humiliated” despite giving his entire life to the party. Speaking to NDTV in an exclusive interview, Mr Sharma said, “I am not saying I am the only one… We all have challenges. I have had issues over the years where I could have withdrawn: Of a challenged autistic son”. “I gave up my profession, I gave up my life. I don’t need to be vilified. I am deeply hurt and humiliated. I am sorry,” he added, his voice breaking.
Asked if he had plans to quit the party, he said, “Never. I’m making this absolutely clear… There’s nobody in the Congress who can question Ghulam Nabi Azad, me and some of others who have given our lives to the party”.
“What is this canard being spread? To raise issues in the party for internal reforms and collective decision-making leadership — is it a crime? That has been the tradition and history of the Indian National Congress,” he added. “Intriguers and interlopers cannot make such absurd comments about us”.
Speaking about the treatment of all G-23 members — the leaders who wrote an explosive letter to Sonia Gandhi two years ago seeking major organisational changes — he said, “We are the builders of this Congress. We are co-owners, we are not tenants or slaves… When we raise certain issues, why are we being condemned?”
In May, both Mr Sharma and Mr Azad were dropped from the party’s Rajya Sabha lists, drawing loud protests from many in the party.
Speaking of the latest “humiliation”, Mr Sharma explained his move to step down from the Himachal Pradesh steering Committee post.
As a longstanding member of the party’s Working Committee and its Political Affairs Committee, “I did not ask that I be made the chairman of a steering committee,” he said. “Why I was not invited to be part of all the meetings is what I cannot answer. My position had become untenable,” he added, underscoring the time when the party had sent central observers.
Mr Sharma, like others in the G-23, has been sharply critical of the party over the last two years over multiple issues including the alliance with a controversial new party floated by a Muslim cleric in Bengal and the leadership’s silence over the attack on Kapil Sibal’s house.
As the organisational changes promised by Sonia Gandhi after their letter got repeatedly delayed, a number of leaders quit the party.
Over the last two years, the party lost Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jitin Prasada, RPN Singh, Ashwani Kumar, Kapil Sibal and Hardik Patel. Most of these leaders have crossed over to the BJP.