On May 16, Congress heavyweight Kapil Sibal resigned from the party. The news broke yesterday after he announced the same while submitting a Rajya Sabha (RS) nomination as an independent candidate, in the presence of Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav. “I have filed candidacy as an independent candidate with the assistance of SP,” stated Sibal.
In an exclusive interview with India Today TV, he said, “I told Akhilesh ji that I wanted to go to RS and to please support me as an independent. After 30 years, it was time to quit and work as an independent… would not speak against Congress now at any point. I have a good relationship with many opposition leaders. My wife says we have a connection with Uttar Pradesh.”
Commenting on the same he said it was “always difficult to move on, but everyone has to think about themselves” at some point. “I thought the time has come for me to move on and be an independent voice in parliament. I did not want to be hanging on to the coattails of any party,” Kapil Sibal told NDTV.
“It is always difficult when you are with a party for so long and wedded to its ideology. Every person has to think for himself… to do something different.” He said he will work to bring all political parties on one platform to fight the BJP in the 2024 national election. But is it possible to have an opposition coalition without the Congress? “We will try to get everybody together on a common platform — all political parties. Congress is a political party, isn’t it,” Sibal replied.
In a letter to Sonia Gandhi two years ago, Sibal was the driving force behind the “G-23,” or the group of 23 dissenters who wanted fundamental organisational and leadership reforms in the Congress. The veteran has become increasingly vociferous and scathing about the Gandhis in recent months, even suggesting that “the leadership is in cuckooland”. When asked if his departure, along with few others, and some “dissenters” being co-opted in party panels, marked the end of the “G-23”, he declined to comment. He is the sixth high-profile politician to leave the Congress this year. When asked why he approached the Samajwadi Party, he stated that he “didn’t want to join the party or any other political party”. “I had said the BJP over my dead body and no other political party.”
“In parliament today there are no independent voices. You are always guided by the party leadership. If an MP doesn’t have that choice, you are doing injustice to democracy,” added Sibal.
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In response to the news, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav stated, “Kapil Sibal submitted his nomination today. He is heading to Rajya Sabha with the backing of the SP. Two additional persons may attend the House. Kapil Sibal is a senior advocate. He has effectively expressed his views in Parliament. We hope he will present both SP’s and his own viewpoints.” Sibal has been outspoken in his criticism of the Congress leadership, calling for a non-Gandhi to lead the party.
“We are all constrained by (the) fact that we are members of parties and have to abide by the discipline of that party but it is important to have an independent voice,” said Sibal. The former Union minister, while filing his nomination papers, further added, “We want to make a coalition and oppose the Modi government. We want to create an atmosphere in which we can oppose the BJP. I will personally work towards that.”
Earlier this month, Sunil Jakhar and Hardik Patel resigned from the Congress, which just hosted a ‘Chintan Shivir’ in Udaipur, shortly after Sibal’s departure. This comes days before Uttar Pradesh is set to hold elections for 11 Rajya Sabha seats, on June 10.