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‘Chintan Shivir’ over, but no end to ‘chintas’: Sibal quits Cong to start ‘independent’ innings

NEW DELHI: The three-day Congress “Chintan Shivir” in Rajasthan’s Udaipur seems to have done little to reduce the “chintas” (worries) of the grand old party.
One of the biggest worries for the Congress in recent times has been the exodus of its prominent leaders.
The Congress has lost several prominent faces at the national level and across the states since 2014, when it was decimated by the BJP in Lok Sabha elections.
The trend has not just continued but has also taken alarming proportions. Some of the prominent leaders who have left the party in recent times include Jitin Prasada, RPN Singh, Amarinder Singh, Ashwani Kumar.
The Congress would have hoped that the announcements made at the Chintan Shivir to reform and revive the party would have enthused the rank and file and stemmed the exodus of its leaders.
However, that objective seems to have failed. The exit of leaders from the grand old party continues.
It has been just over 10 days since the Chintan Shivir ended and the Congress has lost 3 prominent leaders from 3 different states.
Sunil Jakhar, the former Punjab Congress chief, was the first to leave the party even as the Chintan Shivir was underway. He subsequently joined the BJP.
Jakhar was show-caused by the party for criticising the state leadership and speaking against former Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi.
The next to leave the party was Hardik Patel, the Patidar leader who played a key role in Congress’s improved performance in Gujarat in 2017 assembly elections.
Hardik, who was the working president of Gujarat Congress, had accused the party of not giving him any work.
The latest to join the list of ex-Congressmen is former Union minister Kapil Sibal, who revealed today that he had quit the party on May 16, that is a day after the Chintan Shivir.
Sibal’s exit may not have come as a surprise to the Congress as he had been demanding complete overhaul of the party and was very vocal about change in leadership (read Gandhis).
However, as he parted ways, Sibal refused to speak against the Congress and said he bears no ill-will and is not far from the party and its ideology.
Sibal was a prominent member of the G23 (Group of 23), leaders who had written to Sonia Gandhi last year demanding reforms in the party and visible leadership.
After the Chintan Shivir, Congress gave key responsibilities to at least two prominent faces of the group – Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma – as members of the political affairs group formed to revive the party.
Sibal’s Rajya Sabha tenure was coming to an end and it was highly unlikely that the Congress would have nominated him again from anywhere even if it had numbers – just as it denied another term to Ghulam Nabi Azad, the leader of G-23.
Sibal has filed his nominations for the Upper House with the backing of Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, thus marking a new beginning in his political career.
The Congress has already lost 5 prominent leaders this year but the exodus may not stop here.
There are reports of senior party leader in Haryana Kuldeep Bishnoi meeting BJP chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar. Bishnoi.
Bishnoi, who is son of former Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal, is learnt to be miffed with the party after he failed to get a position in the revamped Haryana unit.
With Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh going to polls later this year, the grand old party will face a tough time holding on to its leaders, especially as Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party is going all out to expand its base in these states ahead of the assembly elections.
(With inputs from agencies)

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