'Many coming together for 2024': Sibal after filing RS papers with SP support
Kapil Sibal, Samajwadi Party: Kapil Sibal - who represents Uttar Pradesh in the Rajya Sabha and whose term ends in July - said he had 'tendered (his) resignation' from the Congress on May 16.
'Many people are coming together for 2024…' senior political leader Kapil Sibal said Tuesday after he filed nomination papers for a Rajya Sabha seat - not as a member of the Congress but as an independent candidate with support from Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party. READ: Kapil Sibal files nomination for Rajya Sabha with Samajwadi Party support, says quit Congress on May 16
Sibal - who represents Uttar Pradesh in the Rajya Sabha and whose term ends in July - also said he had 'tendered (his) resignation' from the Congress on May 16 and that he 'always wanted to be an independent voice in the country'.
"I was a Congress leader. But not anymore... I had resigned from the Congress on May 16. I'll not say anything about Congress… not appropriate for me to say anything. It's not easy to leave a relationship of 30-31 years," he said.
"I have filed nomination as an independent candidate. I have always wanted to be an independent voice in the country... we (the opposition) want to create an alliance so we can oppose the Modi government," he said after filing papers.
"I am thankful to Akhilesh Yadavji... We, many people, are coming together for 2024. We will expose shortcomings of the central government ahead of 2024. All will put our views before the public."
Sibal will likely face little trouble in being re-elected given the SP has 111 MLAs. Had he stayed with the Congress he would almost certainly not have been re-elected, given the GOP has just two MLAs in the house.
He filed his papers with Samajwadi chief Akhilesh Yadav looking on. Yadav later said: "Kapil Sibal is a senior lawyer. He has presented his opinions well in the Parliament. We hope he'll present opinions of both SP as well as himself."
Kapil Sibal is a prominent member of the G23 - a group of Congress leaders who have been vocal about the need for structural changes if the GOP is to re-emerge as a challenger to the BJP.
His resignation and alliance with the Samajwadi Party only deepens the crisis that Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra must solve if the Congress is to have any success in assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh this year and a massive nine state elections in 2023 (including Cong-ruled Rajasthan) as well as the 2024 Lok Sabha elections to which Sibal alluded.
Sibal is the third high-profile exit from the Congress in recent weeks - following the departures of former Punjab unit chief Sunil Jakhar and Hardik Patel, the Patidar community leader from Gujarat who quit just months before assembly elections in prime minister Narendra Modi's home state.
Jakhar joined the BJP just days after he left the Congress and Patel too has been linked with a switch to the saffron outfit, although he has been coy about confirming such links.
And, like the exits of Jakhar and Patel, this should not come as a surprise to the Congress; perhaps even less so because Sibal has been public in his criticism of the party over the past months.
A highly-regarded attorney - in 2017 he represented Akhilesh Yadav in the Supreme Court in the matter of his party's election symbol (he won that case) - more recently Sibal represented SP MLA Azam Khan in the top court and helped him win bail after two years in jail.
Elections for 11 UP Rajya Sabha seats are scheduled for next month.