Congress faces jolt as former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar quits

Deccan Chronicle.  | dc correspondent

Nation, Politics

'Congress losing in Punjab to AAP'

Former union law minister Ashwani Kumar at his residence, in New Delhi (PTI Photo/Kamal Singh)

New Delhi: In another blow to the Congress days before the Assembly elections in Punjab, former Union law minister and senior leader from the state Ashwani Kumar has quit the party. In a resignation letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Mr Kumar said he could best serve the national interest outside the Congress fold. He wrote: “Having given my thoughtful consideration to the matter, I have concluded that in the present circumstances and consistent with my dignity, I can best serve larger national causes outside the party fold. I am accordingly quitting the party after a long association of 46 years and hope to proactively pursue public causes inspired by the idea of transformative leadership, based on the dignitarian promise of a liberal democracy envisioned by our freedom fighters.”

A three-term parliamentarian, Mr Kumar was completely ignored in the management of the Punjab election. His name also did not make it to the star campaigners’ list. In the letter, he further said: “There comes a time when you can’t take any more.” Hitting out at the Congress, he said: “My sense of the ground situation in the Punjab election is that the Congress is losing the polls and the AAP is coming to power.” He further added: “I am not an astrologer, but I am saying what I am seeing on the ground. There is a wave for the AAP.”

Responding to the G-23 letter writers, he went on to say: “My opposition to the G-23 was that they only talked about an election. Did not they know that they stood no chance in any election against a member of the Gandhi family?”

The former Union law minister claimed that the Congress was facing an existentialist challenge as a national party, and added that it had lost touch with the ground reality and no longer reflected the national mood. On the question of joining any other political party, he clarified that he had not thought of joining any other political party, but will remain active in the pursuit of public and national causes. He further lamented the party’s treatment of former Punjab chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh, and said: “The manner in which Capt. Amarinder Singh was humiliated and forced to resign was an ominous signal. He deserved better. The dismal state of Punjab’s economy demands an elevating and consensual politics and the shunning of narrow personal prejudices.”

Mr Ashwani Kumar is one of the three former Central ministers to have left the Congress. Though Mr Kumar had not been a part of the G-23 grouping, he has mostly raised same issues regarding the running of the party. Mr Kumar has claimed that it is impossible to make changes in the party while staying within the organisation. The resignation of the veteran leader will also affect the Congress’ prospects in the upcoming February 20 elections in Punjab.

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