Former Union minister and senior Supreme Court lawyer Kapil Sibal filed his nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha seat from Uttar Pradesh as an independent candidate backed by the Samajwadi Party.
Javed Ali Khan also filed his papers as SP candidate.
There was speculation that the SP could field Sibal as a Rajya Sabha candidate. He is the lawyer who secured senior SP leader Mohammad Azam Khan’s bail from the Supreme Court.
Kapil Sibal, after filing his papers, said he had resigned from the Congress on May 16. Sibal said his ideology was related to the party he had been with for three decades. His exit from the party is another jolt to the electorally battered Congress.
The former Union minister was accompanied by Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and SP general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav to Central Hall of UP Vidhan Bhawan.
“I have filed the nomination as an independent candidate. I thank Akhileshji for supporting me. I resigned from the Congress on May 16 and am no longer a senior Congress leader,” he said.
The SP chief later said Sibal was being supported by the Samajwadi Party.
A prominent member of the G23 which had sought an organisational overhaul in the Congress, Sibal’s tenure as Congress’ Rajya Sabha member ends in July.
On his leaving the party, Sibal said, “I had a deep relationship with the Congress. It was for 30-31 years. This is not a small thing. I joined the Congress because of Rajiv Gandhi. You must be thinking how one can go from the Congress after 31 years. Sometimes such decisions are to be taken.”
Sibal, who has been vocal in his criticism of the Congress leadership, had called for a non-Gandhi leader as the new party chief.
“We are all constrained by the fact that we are members of parties and have to abide by the discipline of that party but it is important to have an independent voice. When the voice of an independent is raised, people will feel that he is not associated with any other party,” Kapil Sibal said after filing his papers.
“We want to form a coalition and oppose the (Narendra) Modi government. We want to create an atmosphere in which we can oppose the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). I will personally work towards that,” he said.
Asked whether his ideology now would be of the Samajwadi Party, Sibal said, “I am with all-inclusive ideologies, be it of the Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal, Mamata Banerjee or Stalin (Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin).”
Sibal’s resignation comes close on the heels of Sunil Jakhar and Hardik Patel resigning from the Congress, which recently held a Chintan Shivir in Udaipur.
Elections for 11 Rajya Sabha seats of Uttar Pradesh are underway.
On the SP’s support to Sibal, Akhilesh Yadav said, “Kapil Sibal is a senior leader and a known lawyer. He has been in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and put his point across well everywhere. I hope he will put his views on big questions of unemployment and inflation, insecure borders and China.”