When former Union Minister Jitin Prasad, a Congress leader considered once close to Rahul Gandhi, crossed over to the BJP ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections next year, it did not take many in the Congress by surprise.
That is because Prasad’s exit has apparently been in the works for close to a week. Top Congress brass had been in touch with him, trying to dissuade him from taking the plunge. ” In the end he seems to have prevailed. We only hope he doesn’t take his friend Rahul Gandhi along to BJP headquarters ” .
That was a jibe from a veteran Congress leader who has been watching Jitin Prasad mull his exit plan for quite some time. Congress top leaders had tried to hold on to him– he was first among G-23 leaders who had called for internal party reform in a letter to Sonia Gandhi and was even mollified with an election assignment.
Prasad was given charge of West Bengal assembly elections. It is another matter, that the Congress for the first time since Independence managed to end up not having a single MLA in Bengal Legislative Assembly . Maybe the election outcome probably had nothing to do with Prasad’s management .
Nonetheless, Prasad’s exit is bound to come across as a huge set-back for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh where the 47-year-old leader is viewed as its only Brahmin face in the state.
Significantly, when he was ushered into the BJP headquarters by Union Minister Piyush Goyal he was show-cased not for the importance of his caste but for his class. And perhaps, for the first time the BJP show-cased his achievements as former UPA minister and on his elite schooling– Goyal introduced him as a Doon School/SRCC( Sri Ram College of Commerce) alumni joining its ranks. That perhaps may have been done more to strike a chord/ appeal among urban Indian middle class .
Of course, Prasad was not the first Doon School alumni who had made it to BJP’s A-list; nearly a year ago Jyotiraditya Scindia who had joined the party in March 2020 was also a Doon School alumni and he had other impeccable academic credentials.That is why responding to Prasad’s news, a UP Congress veteran wryly remarked, ” We have seen what has happened to those who have joined the BJP”. Scindia, though elected to Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh is yet to be made a minister in the Modi Government.
On their part, BJP sources made it clear that Prasad was not being hurriedly admitted into the party to mollify Brahmins unhappy with the Yogi Government ahead of next year’s elections.
” If we are not playing up Prasad’s Brahmin card it is only right so. Brahmins who are upset with us in the state are from Eastern UP. Prasad belongs to Western UP, “pointed out a UP leader. In this context it may be recalled even the buzz about induction of MLC A.K. Sharma– into the Yogi Government — would also not fit caste criteria; Sharma sources pointed out was a bhumihar.
Upon his induction into the BJP, Prasad made all the right noises about his new party. “What’s the point in being in a party if you can’t help the people you represent. Started feeling that I was not able to contribute or work for the people,” he asserted
Lavishing praise on the BJP, he dubbed it as ” only real political party, only national party.” The rest are regional. BJP and (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi alone can meet the challenges the country is facing now”. It remains to be seen how many more younger Congress leaders will join the BJP bandwagon like Prasad.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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