Taking a quirky jibe at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a day after party leader RPN Singh quit to join the saffron party, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said that the BJP is now mostly composed of Congress leaders. Tharoor referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s earlier slogan “Congress-mukt Bharat” (Congress-free India) to take a dig at the party and said that it is now “Congress-yukt BJP” (Congress-powered BJP).
In a poetic tone, the Congress leader shared on Twitter, “Chorh kar ja rahe hain ghar apna, shayad unke kuch aur sapne hain, ab udhar bhi sab apna sa hai, ab udhar bhi toh sabhi apne hain. (Congress-yukt BJP).”
Congress national spokesperson Pawan Khera also tweeted in Hindi, “One who couldn’t be true to his ideology, cannot be our own,” adding, “Have to defeat those who divide people in 80-20, O Arjun; don’t look for your people there, don’t look for dreams there.”
After his long association with the Congress, former union minister RPN Singh joined the BJP on Tuesday, weeks ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly election. Hailing from Padrauna in UP’s Kushinagar district, Singh has contested the UP assembly election from Congress in 1996, 2002, and 2007, and was elected as a Member of Parliament from Kushinagar, becoming a union minister in the Manmohan Singh government during UPA II. His father, CPN Singh, was also an MP from Kushinagar and a minister in Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s cabinet.
Claiming that the Congress is no longer the party it used to be, RPN Singh, after joining the BJP at the party headquarter, said, “I have been in one party for the last 32 years, but today I must say that the party is no longer what it used to be, nor is its thought. Today, everyone knows that if there is one party that is working for the benefit of the people and is working on building the nation, it is the BJP.”
Further, in praise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Singh said, “I have seen how a double engine government has initiated development works in UP, which is the heart of India… Now I would like to be part of nation-building with PM Modi, as a small worker.”
Singh was welcomed to the saffron party by BJP leaders like UP Deputy Chief Ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, UP BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh, union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan, Anurag Thakur and Jyotiraditya Scindia (whose switch from Congress to the BJP was also a key turn of events). BJP leaders said that Singh joining the party will boost the party’s “optics and narrative” in UP, especially while many OBC leaders have recently left the party to join the opposition. A BJP MP said, “It may not help the BJP in UP much. But it will add to the party’s overall narrative. It will help project the Congress as an indolent party and its leadership as inefficient, in states where we are in a direct fight with it.”
However, Congress leaders from Jharkhand have expressed a sense of relief over RPN Singh leaving the party, alleging that he was trying to break the party to pave the way for the BJP to replace the Mukti Morcha-Congress-RJD government in the state, which is led by Hemant Soren. Congress MLA Amba Prasad from Barkagaon said, “He was working for the BJP in Jharkhand. He was trying to break the party to form a BJP government. He was party to the dirty game that the BJP played in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa and Northeastern states.”
“The Congress has 18 MLAs in the Jharkhand house. He (Singh) had got about eight MLAs in his confidence, but was unable to succeed in getting the 12 MLAs required to split the party… and the BJP, which has 25 MLAs, including Babulal Marandi, as well as the support of some independents, require exactly 12 MLAs to replace Hemant Soren,” added another senior Congress leader.
The Jharkhand All India Congress Committee in-charge’s switch to the BJP has been interpreted by experts and ground level workers as more risky for the Congress. Veteran journalist Jaishankar Gupta said, “In terms of his educational career and family lineage, R.P.N Singh might look high-profile; he might draw more media attention, too, because of his pedigree. But he is nowhere when it comes to connecting with the poor, struggling and suffering masses.”
“Swami Prasad Maurya, Om Prakash Rajbhar, Dara Singh Chauhan and Dharam Singh Saini are the grounded leaders commanding clout with the Mauryas, Kushwahas, Kashyaps, Koiris, Nonias, Sainis, Rajbhars, Nishads, Gonds and numerous other OBCs who have suffered heavily because of the unprecedented price rise, loss of livelihood opportunities, mistreatment and overall economic distress. The poor castes, particularly in eastern UP, are angry with the Prime Minister Modi and chief minister Adityanath,” added the veteran journalist, who hails from UP’s Mau district.