New Delhi: Former Union minister and two-time Lok Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh, Jitin Prasada joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Wednesday.
The decision of the 47-year-old leader — who was the Congress’s Brahmin face in Uttar Pradesh — to join the BJP assumes significance ahead of the assembly polls scheduled to take place in the state early next year.
Prasada thanked BJP president J.P. Nadda, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Home Minister Amit Shah for “accepting me in the party fold” and said the BJP is the only party working towards nation-building.
Terming it a “new chapter” of his political career, Prasada said: “My connection with Congress is of three generations. And hence the decision that I have taken today is after a lot of deliberations. The question is not why I’m leaving a party but why I’m joining another party”.
“If there is any political party or a leader standing for the interests of the nation today, considering the situation that our country is going through, it is BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Prasada said at the BJP headquarters in Delhi. He also said the BJP is an “institutional party”, while all other parties are either “regional or person-specific”.
“This decade will be significant for India and that will be decided by the government. I have toured across the country and I understand what the common people feel about the PM. The new India that he is creating I want to give my small contribution to it too,” he said.
Prasada said he wasn’t able to protect the interest of people while being in Congress, adding that his work in the BJP will speak for itself.
“The party that I was in, I realised I was not able to help my own people. If we are not able to serve the interest or protect the interest of our people then there is no purpose of doing politics or staying in a political party. I realised being in Congress I was not able to do the same. I have joined the BJP and my work will speak for itself and I don’t want to say more. I will follow the sabka saath and sabka vishwaas policy of PM Modi,” he said.
While inducting him into the party, BJP MP Anil Baluni and Union minister Piyush Goyal also praised Jitin Prasada’s father Jitendra Prasada’s contributions to Uttar Pradesh.
“I see he (Jitin Prasada) will have a major role in UP politics in the future. He is someone who is connected to the ground realities and is a popular leader. He has immense love for the country,” Goyal said.
Congress’ Brahmin face in UP
Prasada was one of the G23 leaders who had written to Congress president Sonia Gandhi demanding greater accountability and pressing for an overhaul of the Congress after the 2019 Lok Sabha election setback.
He was also one of the few “dissenters” who was made in-charge of the West Bengal assembly polls where the Congress party was unable to win a single seat.
In March 2019, Prasada had denied the rumours that he was likely to join the BJP. “He was supposed to join [the BJP] before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections but it did not materialise then. After seeing the state of affairs in Congress he finally decided to take the plunge,” said a senior BJP leader.
“He is a Brahmin face and will help consolidate the party’s position amongst the community. There is a sizable population which feels let down and his entry will help in that for sure. In 2017 he had launched Brahmin Chetna Parishad in 2020 to address the grievances of the community,” added the leader.
Prasad is the second former Rahul Gandhi aide to defect to the BJP after Jyotiraditya Scindia left last year. Scindia is now a Rajya Sabha MP.
However, Congress leaders said Prasada had been on a losing streak in Uttar Pradesh. “He lost all elections he contested on a Congress ticket in Uttar Pradesh. He lost the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Dhaurahra constituency while he was the sitting MP. In the 2017 assembly elections, he lost from Tilhar too and in 2019 he lost the Dhaurahra Lok Sabha seat. He will face the same fate as Scindia who is still waiting to be the minister,” said a senior Congress leader.