Indian Express

Venod Sharma next in line to form political party in Haryana

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sharma-m Once a close confidant of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Sharma quit the Congress in an apparent bid to first join the BJP.

After former minister of state for Home Gopal Goyal Kanda, former Union minister Venod Sharma is all set to launch his own political outfit.

Once a close confidant of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Sharma quit the Congress in an apparent bid to first join the BJP and then the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC). His chances were scuttled by a tweet by the senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj against his entry in the party.

Following this misadventure, Sharma organised a huge rally at Kurukshetra but stopped short of declaring his own party. He ended up praising BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. Finally he decided to form a new political party.

“We are at the final stage of taking a decision on our party, which will soon be announced. However, our primary concern is not only contesting the election. We want to provide the people of the state a platform to raise their voices and concerns for a common cause,” Sharma told The Indian Express. He said his party would contest the forthcoming Assembly elections, which are due in October.

Sharma who was so thick with Hooda that his decision to quit the Congress surprised everyone. Both had studied together and Sharma is said to have been instrumental in many of the decisions of the government. Hooda mostly kept mum on his exit, saying, “In democracy everybody has the right to take own decision.”

Sources said Sharma was in touch with a number of leaders in the state. Of late, there is no dearth of leaders who are feeling uncomfortable in the state Congress. Sharma played a major role in bringing the seven Independents on board to support Hooda after the Congress fell short of a majority in the 2009 Assembly elections.

Later, when five HJC legislators dumped their president Kuldeep Bishnoi and shifted to the Congress, Sharma had a major role to play. He is known for his manipulation skills. On possibilities of striking a deal with any party, Sharma said the first priority was to bring the party into existence. “At present the only target is to decide the structure, policy and programme of the party,” he said.

Sharma’s political career was in jeopardy after his son Manu Sharma’s name figured in the Jessica Lal murder case. However, he rose again to build a strong political space in Haryana. He wanted a Lok Sabha ticket from Karnal but quit over the Congress’s method of deciding tickets. “Rahul said that candidates would be selected by the primaries but that was far from reality as tickets were decided in Delhi on other considerations,” he said.

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