The first thing you notice when you enter Anand Sharma’s office at his residence are his pictures with former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. It’s this association with the Gandhis that he has often flaunted and that he had to showcase once again at the stormy Congress Working Committee meeting last week.
Sharma was one of the 23 signatories to the unprecedented letter calling for reforms in the Congress party. After the letter came out, he was dismissed by some as a Rajya Sabha leader and one who ‘cannot win elections’ at the CWC.
Like Pranab Mukherjee, Sharma is known for his meticulous notes and elephant memory, skills that for long made him an asset for Sonia Gandhi. But today, as he breaks down while talking to News18.com, Sharma is forced to remind the party of his worth. And that it’s time for the Congress to wake up now.
A lot happened at the CWC meeting. Did you expect it?
People who had not even read the letter were being allowed to say things which should not be permissible in a civilised discussion. There were selective misreading of excerpts by a few. I had demanded that the letter be distributed and read out to CWC members and officially released so that this misinformation that we were against Mrs Gandhi, or dissenting, would be nipped.
Why did you write the letter? Couldn’t you have raised the issues in a meeting?
The letter is nothing but our collective concern over what is happening. The truth must come out. The BJP can be countered by a strong opposition, but at the core of this is revival of Congress as a political party.
What comes next? What are you expecting now from the party and from Sonia Gandhi?
We deeply appreciate her (Sonia Gandhi) sagacity and her closing remarks which were gracious and conciliatory, when she said these (the group of 23) are my valued colleagues and that there are many suggestions that are worth discussion. She said what has happened has happened and let us move on. We appreciate her.
We hope we are called for a meeting. We continue to remain an integral part of Congress. It’s unthinkable that we of all the persons would do anything which would harm the party.
Some say you all are opposed to the idea of Rahul Gandhi taking charge once again or you all being sidelined by the youngsters in the party?
We have no such qualms. None of us are claimants for anything, but we cannot be in denial of what has happened. We are wiped out from Shimla to Nagpur. We are deeply hurt. We were quiet till now because of our decency.