Once considered as one of the most powerful politician in the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government, the rebel Congress MLA Venod Sharma has completely vanished from the electoral arena of Haryana.
After spending almost 40 years in the Congress, Sharma quit the party early this month. His resignation was seen as a setback to Hooda as Sharma was among his close aides.
Sharma, who has business interests in sugar mills in Haryana also owns a business empire spreading from hospitality industry to media and other sectors.
After leaving the Congress, he had shown firm intentions to join the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to remain active in the politics. Initially, there were rumours that Sharma may join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and had reportedly met its national leadership.
The BJP's ally the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) president Kuldeep Bishnoi also wanted to accommodate Sharma and had hinted at fielding him from Karnal parliamentary segment.
But the entry of Sharma, who is known for his proximity to chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and the controversy regarding the Jessica Lal murder case, in which is son Manu Sharma was convicted, in the NDA was opposed by senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj.
As his joining of the HJC was suspended indefinitely due to the last-minute intervention, Sharma made a last-ditch effort to woo the BJP at a political rally in Kurukshetra where he announced to support any front that votes BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
Though initially Bishnoi had reacted sharply to Swaraj's objection and termed it as an "attempt to interfere with the HJC's affairs, which was totally unacceptable" but gradually he bowed to the BJP pressure.
Sharma's effort to join the HJC also faced a severe criticism from Bishnoi's family as the party chief's elder brother Chander Mohan had told reporters here last week that he was dead against it.
"Question to allow Sharma to join the HJC and contesting polls on the party symbol does not arise at all. I firmly oppose any such move," Mohan had said it last week.
Sharma's several supporters in his constituency, Ambala, had resigned to express solidarity to their leader. His men had claimed that Sharma may join a political front to play an important role but there is no word from him and his supporters as of yet.
Making his intentions clear that the HJC's have shut doors on Sharma, Bishnoi, in a telephonic interview with HT on Friday had said Venod Sharma's joining depends upon its ally.
"Sharma is a good man and the HJC was keen to induct him but nothing could be done unless the BJP gives a green signal to it," said Bishnoi, who is contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Hisar.