Anand Sharma Quits Himachal Congress Post Days After Kashmir Party Revolt

Anand Sharma was appointed chairman of the "steering committee" of the Congress's Himachal Pradesh unit in April.

Anand Sharma wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi announcing his move. (File)

New Delhi:

Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma on Sunday said he was resigning as chief of the "steering committee" of the party's Himachal Pradesh unit, days after a similar move in Jammu and Kashmir, led by veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad.

In a letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi ahead of assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, Mr Sharma said that he felt left out of the party's decisions ahead of the polls and that his self-respect is "non-negotiable", sources said.

"Reiterating that I am a lifelong congressman and remain firm on my convictions... given the continuing exclusion and insults, as a self-respecting person - I was left with no choice," he wrote on Twitter.

Mr Azad, another member of the group of Congress dissidents dubbed the "G-23", had resigned as chairman of the campaign committee as well as the political affairs panel in Jammu and Kashmir a few days ago.

Mr Sharma has told the Congress chief that he has been ignored in the consultation process for the elections. However, he told her that he will continue to campaign for the party candidates in the state.

The former union minister and deputy leader of the Congress in Rajya Sabha was appointed chairman of the party's "steering committee" in Himachal Pradesh on April 26.

Both Mr Azad and Mr Sharma are prominent leaders of the G-23 grouping, which has been critical of the decisions of the party leadership and has called for a radical overhaul to revive the party's flagging fortunes.

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 party's top decision-making body, the Congress Working Committee.

Mr Sharma, who is considered among the tallest leaders of the party from Himachal Pradesh, 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 hopes to take unseat the BJP in the Himachal Pradesh assembly polls slated later this year, which Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has made a three-way contest for the first time in many years.

Mr Sharma, who first contested assembly elections in 1982 and was given a Rajya Sabha ticket by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984, has been a Rajya Sabha member since and has held several key positions in the party.