New Delhi: Kapil Sibal has made the decision to leave Congress Party, ending his over two decades-long relationships on May 16, announced by the man himself over a week later on Wednesday, May 25. His resignation comes to a couple of years after, what has looked like indecisiveness as to his loyalty to the party, the Gandhi’s and also after questions to whether he’s an asset or a liability to the party.
He will now try the route of an independent candidate to get re-elected to the Rajya Sabha with the support of the Samajwadi Party. His last Rajya Sabha role was with the Congress’ backing in 2016. After the drudging that the party received after the elections to five states this year, including Uttar Pradesh which will be filling 11 seats to the Rajya Sabha, for Sibal, it is perhaps the right decision coming at the most appropriate time to leave the Congress which presently has just two seats in the UP Assembly.
The fissures between him and the Congress party leadership were already apparent when he was part of the group of 23 leaders of the party who wrote a letter to party president Sonia Gandhi for want of an overhaul in the party from the bottom to top leadership.
After this, he had believed a statement attributed to Vice President of the Congress party, Rahul Gandhi calling those Congress leaders who wanted an organisational overhaul “colluding with the BJP”.
While Rahul himself later clarified the statement with Sibal, it was already too late with him having tweeted (which was later deleted) “Rahul says ‘we are colluding with BJP’. Succeeded in Rajasthan High Court defending the Congress Party. Defending party in Manipur to bring down BJP government”.
The last 30 years have never made a statement in favour of the BJP on any issue. Yet we are colluding with the BJP!”.
But the relations may have soured for the worse, with murmurs that just like in the most recent exit from the Congress Party of Hardik Patel, Rahul Gandhi refused to meet Sibal, despite him seeking appointments numerous times.
Made Leader, Now Quits Sinking Ship?
Kapil Sibal’s political journey began as a Rajya Sabha MP through the nomination of the Congress Party, in 1998. From 2000–02 he served as the secretary of Congress’s parliamentary membership.
He decided to contest a seat in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections and won from the Chandni Chowk constituency of Delhi. He was re-elected from that constituency in 2009.
During those years of the Congress government under former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he was given his first cabinet-level assignment in 2006, taking the portfolios for both science and technology and Earth sciences.
In 2009 he became the minister for human resource development. In January 2011, Sibal was also made minister for communications and information technology, continuing on in that dual role until he relinquished the human resources development component in late 2012. By May 2013 he was given the additional portfolio of law and justice.
And then came the loss of the Congress Party in 2014, which they have not been able to recover from as yet.
He too lost his Chandni Chowk constituency to BJPs Harsh Vardhan. In 2019, Congress wanted to join hands with the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi but the plans fell through the cracks. It is said that Sibal wanted to take another shot at the Chandni chowk seat but once the plans to unite with the AAP did not materialise, his want to contest from there fell apart.
That year, another party veteran Jai Parkash Aggarwal stood for the seat, losing to Vardhan.
For Sibal, many believe the only leader who protected him in the Congress was Ahmed Patel and after his death in November of 2020, that hand of protection was gone. This year, on March 15 Sibal had told Indian Express after the party’s loss in the five states that “Leadership is in cuckoo land. I want a ‘Sab ki Congress’. Some want a ‘Ghar ki Congress’”
He went further to make pointed remarks about the Gandhi family stating: “The Gandhis should voluntarily move away because a body nominated by them will never tell them that they should not continue to hold the reins of power”.
Anti-Hindu Image Of Congress
Sibal may be an eminent lawyer, but his cases nor the public statements he has made against the Congress Party have helped it from emerging out of the sinkhole they look to have gone into.
His cases have many times gone to fuel the Bharatiya Janata Party’s case that the Congress Party is anti-Hindu.
How is that? In recent times, the most contentious of the lot would be the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case, where Sibal was the counsel for Iqbal Ansari, the legal heir of Hashim Ansari, the oldest litigant in the case. He eventually removed himself from the case. The Congress was worried that Sibal’s stand in the case would play into the BJP’s stand that the party is pro-Muslim.
Sibal also appeared in court, opposing the criminalisation of the triple talaq, appearing for the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board. Sibal had defended the practice for instant divorce. This again looked to play into the hands of the BJP, and its allegations of Congress being against Muslim women.
Kapil Sibal has also been the lawyer for Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav in the fodder scam case.
Sibal has also appeared for Anil Ambani in February 2019 for a contempt case filed by Ericsson India. At the same time, he had a few days before criticised the industrialist – and brother of Mukhesh Ambani which the Congress party has repeatedly accused the BJP to be copied with and helping it win contracts – on the Rafale deal controversy.
Congress has also had to distance itself from Sibal after he appeared in a press conference in London, held under the aegis of the Indian Journalists’ Association (Europe), which claimed electronic voting machines (EVM) can be hacked and that the 2014 Lok Sabha elections were rigged.
His Unpaid Media Employees
Sibal’s hand has also wanted to control a piece of the pie that is Media. Launching Tiranga TV sometime in 2019 with Barkha Dutt as consulting editor.
But its life shortly ended in July, after the second term win of the Modi government in May 2019. Then came the tweets by Dutt against Sibal and his wife Promila accusing them of withholding the salaries of nearly 200 employees and forcing them to leave without compensation.
Am told @KapilSibal and his wife wanted to use Modi as an excuse to sack staff saying Modi didn’t let the channel run. But to be absolutely blunt. GOI has done nothing.
Husband and wife have not faced staff, went on holiday to London, while shutting shop, prompting me to call him Mallya — Barkha Dutt (@BDUTT) July 15, 2019
She Also Went On To Write
His wife, who ran a meat factory, says loudly in the workplace, “I shut down factory without giving a paisa to labour, who are these journalists to ask for 6 months salary.” Her labour should have been paid better, but her disparaging remarks of journalists are sickening — Barkha Dutt (@BDUTT) July 15, 2019
Worst of all, @KapilSibal & wife have referred to female staffers as “Kutiya” or Bitch. This is a fit case for NCW @sharmarekha & we will place signed affidavits to prove our case. — Barkha Dutt (@BDUTT) July 15, 2019
She went on to file a suit against Sibal and his wife Promila at the Patiala House Courts. In her plea, filed in October, she sought over Rs 74 lakh plus interest in damages with the channel being shut within months while being assured at least to be run for two years.