Rahul Gandhi loyalist Jitin Prasada joins BJP ahead of 2022 UP polls

Prasada's induction expected to assuage Brahmin community, upset over 'prominence' to Thakurs under Yogi

Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 9

In a major setback to the Congress party, a prominent face from poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, Jitin Prasada, joined the BJP giving the saffron party on Wednesday a leg-up in caste equations while it prepares for Assembly elections next year. 

Welcoming him into the saffron fold in the presence of Union minister Piyush Goyal, BJP’s chief spokesperson, and MP Anil Baluni said Prasada was joining the party as he was “impressed” with the working style of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Goyal too heaped praises on Prasada, lauding him as a leader of stature whose induction will boost the BJP and help him serve the society.

In his first statement from the BJP podium, Prasada applauded Prime Minister Modi and called Home Minister Amit Shah ‘karmyogi’.

 “If there is any political party or a leader standing for the interests of the nation today it is BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Prasad said. He said he was joining the BJP that it was the only national party that worked in an institutional way, while others were all about a few people or confined to specific regions.

“The BJP is the only party that is truly a national party, other parties are mostly regional or individual based/oriented,” he said.

Pointing that politics is for public service, Prasada said he realised he cannot do it in Congress. “If we cannot help people, protect their interests, there is no point being in politics. I was not being able to serve people (in Congress)”, said the 47-year-old former Union minister who comes from a well-known Brahmin family of UP.

His father Jitendra Prasada was a noted Congress leader.

“This is a new chapter of my life. I have been associated with three generations of Congress. I have taken the decision after a lot of consideration. The question is not which party I am leaving but the party I am joining. Only BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi can take the country forward and I want to be part of the new India PM Modi is trying to build,” he said.

With the Congress in the doldrums in UP, his decision to join the BJP may help him politically at a time when the saffron party is trying to ramp up resources to keep together all sections of the society. Apart from “mismanagement” during the second wave of Covid-19 and anti-incumbency, Yogi Adityanath is also facing allegations of “favouring” the Thakur community at the cost of Brahmins. Prasada’s inclusion is expected to assuage some of such feelings.

While it remains to be seen what he brings to the table, politically, (he had lost the Lok Sabha polls) observers say it is “more about perceptions”. Last year he had launched the ‘Brahmin Chetna Parishad’ to give voice to the community. However, for Prasada, who stuck his neck out by aligning with what is known as 'G-23', it may be a win-win situation. He has been trying to resurrect his career and already there are speculations of a “settlement” for him in the Adityanath government.

For Congress, the development comes as another blow. The party appears to be struggling to stop promising young leaders from leaving it. Prasada follows Jyotiraditya Scindia and sources claim many prominent leaders from other parties are in line to join the BJP in the run-up to Assembly elections, next year.


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