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Published On: Wed, Jun 9th, 2021

Brahmin face Jitin Prasada took a massive snub ahead of the U.P polls.

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Jatin-3NEW DELHI : Former Union Minister Jitin Prasada, once close to Rahul Gandhi, crossed over to the BJP today in a huge blow to the Congress ahead of the Uttar Pradesh election next year. The move came as a big jolt to the Congress party at least eight months ahead of the assembly elections in 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh. Sources in the BJP said that he may be asked to contest the upcoming state assembly polls in 2022 and that he might play a role in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
The 47-year-old leader, who was the Congress’s top Brahmin face in UP, exits at a time the opposition party is in meetings in Delhi to try and untangle a feud in Punjab, another state voting in 2022.Earlier the Congress leader held a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah at his residence. Jitin Prasad started his career with Indian Youth Congress as a general secretary. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2004 for the first time. He was also a minister in the UPA government at the Centre.
“I started feeling that I was in a party surrounded by politics. I started feeling that I was not able to contribute or work for the people,” said Jitin Prasada, a saffron scarf indicating his status change. “BJP is the only real political party. It’s the only national party. The rest are regional. BJP and (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi only ones that can meet the challenges the country is facing now,” he said, claiming he started thinking about the move 10 years ago (when he was a Union Minister).
His frustration with his party of 20 years was no secret; he was part of the “G-23” or group of 23 Congress leaders who had written to party chief Sonia Gandhi last year calling for sweeping reforms, collective decision-making and “full-time, visible leadership”. After that cataclysmic letter, Mr Prasada was among the few “dissenters” to be given any role at all; he was tasked with the Congress’s Bengal election campaign, which turned out to be a disaster.
Mr Prasada is the second high-profile Rahul Gandhi aide to move to the BJP after Jyotiraditya Scindia left last year. Soon after his exit, there was speculation that another prominent “rebel”, Rajasthan leader Sachin Pilot, may also be on his way out. “It’s sad that Jitin Prasada has left, he has held important posts,” said Congress spokesperson Supriya Srinate, questioning his decision to join a party “responsible for loss of lives during Covid”.

In 2019, Mr Prasada emphatically denied joining the BJP. Sources say at the time Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in charge of rebuilding the Congress in UP, had convinced him to stay. “What’s the point in being a party if you can’t help the people you represent,” Mr Prasada asked. Just five months ago, he had attacked the BJP government in UP for reportedly manhandling his friend and fellow Doon School alum Rahul Gandhi during a march over the Hathras rape case.
“BJP is the only real political party. It’s the only national party. The rest are regional. BJP and (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi only ones that can meet the challenges the country is facing now,” he said, claiming he started thinking about the move 10 years ago (when he was a Union Minister). Mr Prasada is the second high-profile Rahul Gandhi aide to move to the BJP after Jyotiraditya Scindia left last year.

His frustration with his party of 20 years was no secret; he was part of the “G-23” or group of 23 Congress leaders who had written to party chief Sonia Gandhi last year calling for sweeping reforms, collective decision-making and “full-time, visible leadership”. After that cataclysmic letter, Mr Prasada was among the few “dissenters” to be given any role at all; he was tasked with the Congress’s Bengal election campaign, which turned out to be a disaster.
Jitin Prasada’s father Jitendra Prasada was a prominent ‘Brahmin’ face in Uttar Prasad, who challenged Sonia Gandhi’s leadership in 1999 and contested against her for the post of party chief. He died in 2002. Prasada, once close to Rahul Gandhi, was part of Group-23 (G-23) signatories who had written to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi demanding sweeping reforms in the party. Despite being a dissenter, he was tasked with the Congress campaign in West Bengal, which turned out to be a disappointment. Taking a stand against the party, he opposed Congress’s alliance with the Indian Secular Front (ISF) in West Bengal.
Prasada joining the BJP, but it is believed that the Congress leadership had then managed to persuade him against quitting the party. It is believed that Prasada had been reportedly disillusioned with the grand old party since 2019, the same year when he suffered a humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha election and forfeited his deposit from Dhaurahra parliamentary seat. According to reports, then Congress general secretary-in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was in favour of Prasada contesting against Rajnath Singh from Lucknow.
Speculations are there that BJP understands it that having Jitin Prasad ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly election will help the party pacify Brahmins in the state. A party insider said that Prasada could be projected as the Brahmin face of the party which is completely missing in Uttar Pradesh. Rumours are also that the BJP had been identifying strong faces from opposition parties who have lately been unsatisfied in their party.

The BJP high-command reportedly wants to bring such faces into the party to gain majority numbers in the upcoming Assembly election of Uttar Pradesh. But at the same time, BJP also needs to analyse that while politicians and leaders like Jitin Prasada are no doubt strong faces, but welcoming them into the party may not ensure the requisite numbers during the election.
(With Agency Inputs).

 

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