Jaipur Dialogues, Sunil Sharma and the story of how Congress spiked a candidate

After facing criticism, Congress replaced Sunil Sharma with former Rajasthan minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas as the Lok Sabha candidate for the Jaipur constituency.
Sunil Sharma
Sunil Sharma
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When the Congress party released its fifth list of candidates on Sunday, March 24 for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, one constituency which became a talking point was the Jaipur seat, for which the party had made a candidate replacement. Initially, India’s oldest party had announced that it would field Sunil Sharma. This move did not go down well with many of the party’s supporters as well as members within the party. 

The reason for this was Sharma’s association with The Jaipur Dialogues, a platform which is known for promoting right-wing content as well as making videos critical of the Congress party and its leaders, including Rahul Gandhi and Shashi Tharoor.

The Jaipur Dialogues, which calls itself a “platform for the right thinking people”, was founded by former IAS officer Sanjay Dixit in 2016. Its website claims that it is a platform that “aims to promote Indic knowledge systems and foster a deeper understanding of Hindu culture and philosophy.”

On Saturday, co-founder of fact-checking portal Alt-News Mohammed Zubair shared the video of a reporter trying to interview Sunil Sharma, who ran away from the camera as soon as a question on The Jaipur Dialogues was posed to him. Tagging the X handles of Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, and Priyanka Gandhi, Zubair said that The Jaipur Dialogues, of which Sharma is allegedly a partner, “is one of the most hateful X handles. Most content against religion and Congress”. 

Shashi Tharoor, the Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram shared Zubair’s post and said, “He must have undergone some sort of Pauline epiphany on the road to 24 Akbar! This is just one of several dozen tweets from his handle attacking me.”

Tharoor went on to share another post from The Jaipur Dialogues’ handle that targeted him.

When criticism started to mount, Sharma posted a video message in Hindi claiming that he was never associated with the management of The Jaipur Dialogues and that he was often invited by them as a panelist to speak from the Congress perspective. He also claimed that he parted ways with the platform a long time ago.

However, Sunil Sharma’s name is still listed as a director of JD Digital Private Ltd, which promotes The Jaipur Dialogues. The ad transparency data by Meta shows that the company has promoted content that promotes Hindutva agenda on Facebook.

On Sunday, after much outrage and criticism, Congress replaced Sharma with former Rajasthan minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas.

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