Kapil Sibal, an ex-Congressman, is running for the Rajya Sabha again
Former Union Minister Kapil Sibal announced his departure from the Congress party today, just hours after filing his nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha as an independent candidate backed by the Samajwadi Party. “I resigned from the Congress party on May 16,” Kapil Sibal told reporters, revealing details that had been kept under wraps since the Congress’s “Chintan Shivir,” or strategy meeting, a week ago.
When confronted with questions, he joked, “I am no longer a serious Congress leader.”
Mr Sibal resigned a day after a Congress brainstorming session to discuss a strategy for the party’s resurgence following a series of humiliating election losses. He had opted out of the big meeting and was no longer a member of the Congress’ advisory groups.
“As an independent candidate, I have filed my papers. Being an independent voice in parliament is critical. People will believe that if an independent voice speaks up, it is not affiliated with any political party “Mr. Sibal explained.
This is the fifth high-profile departure from Congress in the last five months.
This exit, like most in the last two years, comes as no surprise to India’s oldest political party.
Mr Sibal, a renowned lawyer who has represented politicians from all sides of the political spectrum and was once one of the party’s most senior leaders, was the driving force behind the “G-23,” or group of 23 dissenters, who demanded a complete overhaul of the party’s leadership and organisation in a letter to party president Sonia Gandhi two years ago.
He has been outspoken and increasingly harsh in his criticism of the Gandhi family’s leadership, particularly Rahul Gandhi.
His term in the Rajya Sabha ends in July. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh in 2016 as a Congress candidate supported by the state’s ruling Samajwadi Party. With only two MLAs in the UP assembly, the Congress is unable to elect anyone to the Rajya Sabha from the state.
Mr Sibal filed his nomination papers in the presence of Akhilesh Yadav, the leader of the Samajwadi Party.
The Samajwadi Party’s decision to back Mr Sibal is seen as a payback for his work as the lawyer for party MP Azam Khan.
Azam Khan was represented by Mr Sibal in the Supreme Court. After two years in prison, the Supreme Court granted Azam Khan interim bail. Eleven Uttar Pradesh seats will be up for election in the Rajya Sabha next month.
“We have chosen Kapil Sibal as our first candidate for the Rajya Sabha election. There will be two more nominations announced soon “according to Akhilesh Yadav.
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