Anand Sharma quits as chairman of Steering Committee of Himachal Congress

In a jolt to the Congress ahead of assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, its senior leader Anand Sharma on Sunday resigned from the chairmanship of the party’s steering committee for the state.

Sharma, in a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, is learnt to have said that his self-respect is “non-negotiable” and he has resigned from the post, sources said.

His resignation comes soon after another leader of the G23 grouping Ghulam Nabi Azad resigned as chairman of the campaign committee in Jammu and Kashmir a few days ago.

Sharma has told the Congress chief that he has been ignored in the consultation process. However, he told Gandhi 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 as chairman of the Steering Committee in Himachal Pradesh on April 26.

Both Azad and Sharma are prominent leaders of the G23 grouping which has been critical of the decisions of the party leadership 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 CWC level.

Sharma, who is considered among the tallest leaders of Himachal Pradesh, has reportedly told the Congress president in his letter that his self-respect has been hurt as he has not been consulted or invited for any of the meetings of the party.

The Congress is seeking to wrest power from the BJP in Himachal Pradesh in assembly polls slated later this year.

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 ever since and has occupied several key positions in the party.

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