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A file photo of Jayanthi Natarajan. Photo: HT
A file photo of Jayanthi Natarajan. Photo: HT

8 prominent Congress leaders who quit the party since May 2014

Since the Congress' crushing defeat in the general elections last year, several prominent leaders have quit the party

In a press conference in Chennai on Friday, former Union minister for environment, Jayanthi Natarajan announced her resignation from the Congress. She resigned as a primary member of the party. Natarajan said that she will not be joining any other party.

Earlier on Friday, The Hindu newspaper carried a letter written by Natarajan to Congress president Sonia Gandhi in November that detailed the reasons for her apparent unhappiness and disillusionment about the party’s functioning.

In the letter, she complained about being forced to act upon “directives" issued by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi during her stint as a minister in the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime.

Since the Congress’ crushing defeat in the general elections last year, several prominent leaders have quit the party, citing unhappiness or rather worryingly, questioning its leadership, most notably that of Rahul Gandhi. Electoral defeats in Jharkhand, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir and Maharashtra aside, the party’s inability to quell dissention within its fold has compounded its problems.

Here’s a list of other leaders who have quit the party since the election results were declared in May 2014.

1) G.K. Vasan

Former Union minister for shipping and son of late Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) leader G.K. Moopanar, Vasan quit the party in November. Soon after leaving the Congress, he floated a new regional party called the “Desiya Tamil Maanila Congress".

2) Krishna Tirath

In a major jolt to the Congress ahead of the upcoming Delhi elections, another former Union minister and the party’s Dalit face in Delhi, Tirath, joined the BJP last week. Tirath switched sides citing lack of “discipline" within the Congress. Tirath, a former Lok Sabha member from Karol Bagh, is now contesting assembly elections on a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket from West Delhi’s Patel Nagar constituency.

3) Chaudhary Birender Singh

Soon after the Narendra Modi-led BJP swept to power at the Centre, the Congress saw a raft of defections, including some of its prominent leaders from states which were due to go to polls in 2014. Among them was a senior leader from Haryana, Singh.

Singh quit as part of growing dissension within the state unit against then Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Immediately after switching sides, Singh was rewarded with a cabinet berth. He is currently the Union minister for rural development and panchayati raj.

4) Datta Meghe

Ahead of assembly polls in Maharashtra, industrialist and educationist Meghe quit the Congress to join the BJP. A prominent leader from Wardha (Vidarbha region), Meghe was a former Lok Sabha MP from Wardha. Besides, he was also elected to the Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra in 2002.

5) Jagmeet Singh Brar

One of its senior leaders from Punjab, Brar, a former Congress Working Committee (CWC) member from Punjab, quit the party this month. After its dismal performance in the Lok Sabha elections last year, Brar reacted suggesting that both Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul must do some introspection for the result. Brar was suspended by the party following his statements. He quit citing “humiliation".

6) Avtar Singh Bhadana

Another prominent former Congress leader and four-time MP, Bhadana quit the Congress ahead of assembly polls in Haryana. He quit the party after launching a scathing attack on Hooda and the central leadership. Having contested as a Congress candidate in the Lok Sabha polls, Bhadana lost from Faridabad. A prominent Gujjar leader, Bhadana subsequently joined the Om Prakash Chautala-led Indian National Lok Dal in August last year.

7) Ranjit Deshmukh

In October last year, former president of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC), Deshmukh quit the party ahead of assembly elections in the state. Deshmukh, while in the Congress, was one of most senior leaders in Vidharba. He resigned from the party citing “poor organization". Deshmukh has an interesting track record of repeatedly quitting the party (three times) throughout his career.

8) Mangat Ram Sharma

In what was a major jolt to the party ahead of assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the state’s former deputy chief minister (2002) Sharma quit the party, and joined the People’s Democratic Party. Sharma was elected to the Lok Sabha from Jammu in 1996, when he contested on a Congress ticket.

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