Senior leader Kapil Sibal, who announced Wednesday that he had quit the Congress, his party of 30 years, said it was “always difficult to move on, but everyone has to think about themselves” at some point.
“I thought the time has come for me to move on and be an independent voice in parliament. I did not want to be hanging on to the coattails of any party,” Kapil Sibal told NDTV.
“It is always difficult when you are with a party for so long and wedded to its ideology. Every person has to think for himself, whether time for him to do something different.”
He said he will work to bring all political parties on one platform to fight the BJP in the 2024 national election. But is it possible to have an opposition coalition without the Congress?
“We will try to get everybody together on a common platform. All political parties. Congress is a political party, isn’t it,” Mr Sibal replied.
The former Union Minister made the surprise announcement today that he had quit the Congress a week ago on May 16, a day after the party’s “Chintan Shivir” or brainstorming meet to discuss the party’s revival amid massive election defeats and internal crises.
He slipped in the announcement soon after filing his nomination as an independent candidate for Rajya Sabha, with the support of the Samajwadi Party.
“It was not a sudden decision. I just didn’t want it to be a tamasha. I am surprised it was not leaked before,” Mr Sibal remarked.
“I thought it was time for me to move on and be an independent voice in parliament. I met Akhilesh Yadav and told him I want to be an independent candidate, not part of any party,” he said.
Mr Sibal was the driving force behind the “G-23” or the group of 23 dissenters who had demanded sweeping organizational and leadership changes in the Congress, in a letter to Sonia Gandhi two years ago.
Over the past few months, the veteran had been increasingly vocal and acerbic about the Gandhis, even saying that “the leadership is in cuckooland”.
Asked whether his exit, along with other “dissenters” being coopted in party panels, meant the end of the “G-23”, he said: “I am not in it anymore. The others are all my friends and they will remain friends, whether they are coopted or not.”
He declined to comment on more exits in the future; he is the fifth high profile leader to quit the Congress this year.
On his decision to approach the Samajwadi Party, he said he “didn’t want to join the party or any other political party”.
“I had said the BJP over my dead body and no other political party.”
He continued: “In parliament today there are no independent voices. You are always guided by the party leadership. If an MP doesn’t have that choice, you are doing injustice to democracy.”