Congress leader Kapil Sibal, who on Wednesday announced his resignation from the party, claiming he wants “to be an independent voice in the Rajya Sabha”, has been a key member of the Group of 23 (G-23) in the party that demanded an overhaul in the aftermath of the poor show at the state and general elections.
Sibal’s statement came on Wednesday after he filed nominations for the Rajya Sabha elections with support of Samajwadi Party, in the presence of Akhilesh Yadav.
His resignation comes close on the heels of Sunil Jakhar and Hardik Patel resigning from the Congress, which recently held a ‘Chintan Shivir’ in Udaipur.
Earlier, Sibal had said at a press conference that the G-23 grouping is “not Jee Huzur 23” and will continue to put forth their views and repeat their demands.
Here’s all about the G-23, Congress’s group of dissenters:
WHAT IS G-23?
In August 2020, 23 senior Congress leaders wrote to then interim party chief Sonia Gandhi requesting active leadership and organisational rejig and demanding an overhaul in view of the frequent failures at the Lok Sabha and state elections.
They stayed firm on their demand, with leaders including Ghulam Nabi Azad and Kabil Sibal, defying the party’s stand on several occasions.
THE GROUP OF 23
Former Chief Ministers:
Bhupinder Singh Hooda: He is the leader of the opposition in Haryana Legislative Assembly. He has served as the Chief Minister of Haryana twice from 2005 to 2014.
Rajinder Kaur Bhattal: Was the Chief Minister of Punjab in 1996. In January 2004, she was the deputy chief minister of Punjab.
Marpadi Veerappa Moily: The Chief Minister of Karnataka in 1992. He has also served as the Law Minister twice.
Prithviraj Chavan: The Chief Minister of Maharashtra in 2010.
Ghulam Nabi Azad: He was the CM of Jammu and Kashmir from November 2005 to July 2008.
Kapil Sibal: He had served as the Additional Solicitor General of India and President of the Supreme Court Bar Association on three occasions. He has also handled various ministries.
Manish Tewari: He was also the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting.
Vivek Tankha: He was one of the youngest Advocate Generals of Madhya Pradesh and played a major role in resolving disputes between Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Other signatories include AICC and CWC members, Mukul Wasnik and Jitin Prasada, former Union Ministers Anand Sharma, PJ Kurian, Ajay Singh, Renuka Chaudhary and Milind Deora, MP Shashi Tharoor and Sandeep Dixit.
Former PCC chiefs Raj Babbar (UP), Arvinder Singh Lovely (Delhi) and Kaul Singh Thakur (Himachal), former Haryana Speaker Kuldeep Sharma, former Delhi Speaker Yoganand Shastri and former Motihari MP Akhilesh Prasad Singh.
While Prasada, Shastri and now Sibal have left the party, Shankarsinh Vaghela, Preneet Kaur, Mohammad Ali Khan and Mani Shankar Aiyar have joined the group.
Sibal has been vocal in his criticism of the Congress leadership and had called for a non-Gandhi as the new party chief.
#EXCLUSIVE | Former #Congress Leader @KapilSibal speaks to CNN News18’s @pranshumisraa after he quit the party and filed his nomination to #RajyaSabha on a @samajwadiparty ticket. pic.twitter.com/BhOFsYhpkk
— News18 (@CNNnews18) May 25, 2022
As he filed his papers, he said, “We are all constrained by 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. 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.”
To chart the Congress’ future course, its chief Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday formed three groups — on political affairs for guidance on key issues, Task Force-2024 to implement the Udaipur ‘Nav Sankalp’ declaration and another to coordinate the October 2 ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.
Gandhi accommodated the G-23 leaders across different groups.
Rahul Gandhi and two prominent members of the G23 — Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma — are in the political affairs group.
The members of the Task Force-2024 are P Chidambaram, Mukul Wasnik, Jairam Ramesh, K C Venugopal, Ajay Maken, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Randeep Singh Surjewala and Sunil Kanugolu.
The Central Planning Group for the coordination of the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ includes Digvijaya Singh, Sachin Pilot, Shashi Tharoor, Ravneet Singh Bittu, K J George, Jothi Mani, Pradyut Bordoloi, Jitu Patwari and Saleem Ahmed.