BJP National President JP Nadda (2L) with Union Minister Piyush Goyal (L), BJP spokesperson Anil Baluni (R) and newly joined BJP leader Jitin Prasada (2R), at his residence in New Delhi
The Congress does not see the exit of Jitin Prasada as a substantial political loss but concedes that his switch to the BJP on Wednesday may have symbolic significance ahead of the crucial Uttar Pradesh elections.
Unlike the other young leaders — such as Jyotiraditya Scindia, whose exit had pulled down the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh, and Sachin Pilot, whose rebellion imperilled the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan — Jitin doesn’t have any effective bargaining counter except being considered close to Rahul Gandhi.
Jitin had lost two successive Lok Sabha elections and one Assembly election, leaving his reputation as a mass leader in tatters.
His decision to defect to the BJP failed to trigger any political concern in the Congress except for the fleeting impression of young leaders’ disenchantment with Rahul.
“It definitely was bad in terms of optics,” said a senior Congress functionary, as Jitin, much like Jyotiraditya and Sachin, was perceived to be close to Rahul at one point.
“But the event is more of a schematic plot by a desperate BJP to alter the narrative before the election in Uttar Pradesh, a model that they unsuccessfully deployed in Bengal,” he added.
Another Congress leader told The Telegraph over phone from Lucknow: “Brahmins are livid with chief minister Yogi Adityanath and the BJP is trying to use Jitin to fool them. He is a symbol of appeasement. But to presume that the Brahmins will follow Jitin’s footsteps is childish.
“Jitin’s father Jitendra Prasada did have some clout among the Brahmins but the son joining the BJP is not expected to have much of an impact on electoral dynamics. Suvendu Adhikari was a big fish in Bengal but Jitin is a small player in Uttar Pradesh. The ripples his exit created will be ephemeral.”
Jitin, who was said to have made up his mind to defect to the BJP before the 2019 parliamentary elections but was stopped, had been feeling uncomfortable in the Congress as his hopes of becoming the president of the Uttar Pradesh party unit were dashed when Ajay Kumar Lallu was appointed to the post.
Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said: “Doesn’t Jitin feel any unease in standing with the party that inflicted such miseries on the people of the country, attacked democratic institutions and the very idea of India? He is standing with the people who threatened to invoke the National Security Act against citizens who spoke about the oxygen crisis, with a Prime Minister whose mismanagement is responsible for the death of lakhs of people.”
Shrinate added: “It is unfortunate that these leaders are not able to understand the nature of the fight. It is not about power, it is about ideology, commitment and morality. ”
Asked about Jitin’s charge that the Congress had become a person-oriented party, Shrinate said: “People who are joining the BJP, which is today nothing except Modi, have the cheek to talk about person-oriented.”