Jaipur, Mar.11: Congress Member of the Rajasthan State Assembly and veteran Brahmin community leader Bhanwar Lal Sharma quit the party on Tuesday, scathingly accusing the Congress of willfully promoting youth at the expense of experience and seniority.
Seventy-five-year-old Sharma said the Congress Party and its vice president Rahul Gandhi’s decision to allow younger and emerging leaders in state units to assume key leadership roles, was a slap in the face of the old guard, which he claimed was tried and tested, and had a record of delivering what was asked of it.
Sharma, who was the Congress legislator from Sardarshahar, has been lashing out at the Congress in a critical manner, saying that senior leaders, their views and suggestions are not being heard or respected.
He specifically abused senior Rajasthan Congress leaders such as C.P. Joshi, former chief minister Ashok Gehlot and Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee president Sachin Pilot, besides the High Command at the Centre.
Sharma is likely to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after meeting Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia on Monday and Tuesday.
Before quitting the Congress, Sharma saw himself as a viable Lok Sabha contender from the Churu Parliamentary constituency. He said that he was annoyed and disappointed to learn that the Congress leadership has decided to field Young Turk Ratan Sharma from Churu.
Churu is currently represented by the BJP’s Ram Singh Kaswan, who won against the Congress Party’s Rafik Lal Mandelia in the 2009 general elections.
The Congress and the Rajasthan PCC has been keen to win this seat, given the large number of Brahmin voters present in the area.
An All India Congress Committee functionary, speaking on condition of anonymity, maintained that Ratan Sharma is on a strong political wicket despite the BJP wave in Rajasthan.
Ratan is a Brahmin and has to his credit the holding of the “Viprabh Mahakhumb”, a huge gathering of Brahmins from all over India.
Bhanwar Lal Sharma is also reported to be seeking a BJP ticket for his son in the Lok Sabha polls, and is said to be on good terms with Raje.
His decision to quit the Congress came as the state BJP election committee met on Tuesday.
Bhanwar Lal Sharma has been bedridden, and not contributed substantially to the Congress campaign in Rajasthan.
Not keen to see anyone else taking over the mantle of Brahmin leadership in Rajasthan, Bhanwar Lal Sharma attempted using pressure tactics to scuttle Ratan Sharma’s chances, despite Rahul Gandhi’s clear instructions to promote youth leadership in the state.
Reports suggest that the Congress Party is planning to take disciplinary action against Bhanwar Lal Sharma, as they are other strong contenders aiming to win the Churu seat from the BJP.
There is no doubt that Ratan Sharma has emerged as front runner for the Churu ticket.
Meanwhile, the BJP is likely to prepare and announce a final panel of three names for each of the constituencies in Rajasthan.
It is reported that the names of the probable candidates have been selected from a series of feedback meetings with party workers and elected representatives.
The BJP parliamentary board is likely to discuss these names at a meeting on March 13, and thereafter, the first list of candidates from the state, will be announced. (ANI)