Former union minister Kapil Sibal, who has resigned from Congress in another blow to the party, is keen to bring together opposition parties against the BJP in the next general elections.
Sibal is the fifth high-profile leader who has left Congress in the last four months. RPN Singh, Ashwani Kumar, Sunil Jakhar and Hardik Patel have also resigned from the Congress.
Sibal had sent his resignation earlier this month to Sonia Gandhi and this became known as he filed his nomination for the Rajya Sabha biennial elections as an independent candidate backed by the Samajwadi Party.
A member of Congress G23, Sibal was among the leaders pushing for sweeping reforms in the party in the face of a series of debacles suffered by it.
A two-time member of Lok Sabha, Sibal is at present in his second term in Rajya Sabha and is due to retire in July this year. He was with Congress for over three decades.
In 2016, he was elected to the Upper House from Uttar Pradesh as a Congress candidate but with outside support including that of the Samajwadi Party (SP).
Sibal filed his nomination for Rajya Sabha elections in Lucknow but did not comment on Congress.
"I will not say anything about Congress. I have resigned. So it is not appropriate for me to say anything about Congress. It is not easy to leave a relationship of 30-31 years. In the past, only a few came to House by getting elected independently, especially in Rajya Sabha. I have got a big opportunity and it has been given to me by Akhilesh Yadav, Shivpal Yadav, Azam Khan. I will raise the issues of the country in the House," Sibal told ANI.
He filed his nomination papers from Uttar Pradesh in the presence of the SP chief Akhilesh Yadav.
Speaking to ANI, Sibal said, "I will not say anything about Congress. I have resigned. So it is not appropriate for me to say anything about Congress. It is not easy to leave a relationship of 30-31 years. In the past, only a few came to House by getting elected independently, especially in Rajya Sabha. I have got a big opportunity and it has been given to me by Akhilesh Yadav, Shivpal Yadav, Azam Khan. I will raise the issues of the country in the House."
Sibal filed his nomination papers from Uttar Pradesh in the presence of the SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and other party leaders in Lucknow.
"I had tendered my resignation from the Congress party on May 16. It is important to be an independent voice. While staying in Opposition we want to create an alliance so that we can oppose the Modi government. We want that the people know about flaws of Modi government. I will put my efforts for that," he said.
Yadav said he was deeply grateful to Akhilesh Yadav for his support. "I also wish to convey my gratitude to Azam Khan. I always wanted to be an independent voice in the country. I am glad Akhileshji understands why this is so. I am no more a serious Congress leader," he added.
Sibal has represented SP leader Azam Khan who was recently granted bail by the Supreme Court in a case faced him.
The members of G-23 group had sought sweeping reforms in the party including elections for the post of the Congress president.
Sibal's 'some want ghar ki Congress' remark during an interview after Congress debacle in five states earlier this year had not gone down well with a section of Congress leaders and some of them had slammed him.
He said also said 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".
Some workers had earlier protested his 'G-23, not Ji Huzoor-23' remark outside his house. The scenes had not gone down well with the group of change-seekers in the party.
Born in 1948, Sibal has fought some high-profile legal cases. An articulate politician, he has also been a Congress spokesperson.
A Delhi University graduate and Harvard University alumni, Sibal has been an Additional Solicitor General and President of the Supreme Court Bar Association.
Sibal was first elected to Rajya Sabha in 1998 from Bihar. He later represented the Chandni Chowk constituency in Lok Sabha between 2004 and 2014.
Sibal served as minister in the two Congress-led UPA governments. He was the Union Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences in the first UPA government.
In the second UPA government, he held portfolios of Human Resource Development, Communications and Information Technology and additional charge of Law and Justice.
Sibal was offered appointment to the Indian Administrative Service but declined the offer.
He joined the Bar in 1972 and was designated Senior Advocate in 1983.