After Jyotiraditya Scindia’s shift to BJP last year, Jitin Prasada’s exit marks another hitch for the Congress party. Prasada was the second young face of the Congress party considered close to Rahul Gandhi. After joining BJP, Prasada said, “An important phase of my life is to begin from today. I have a three-generation connection with Congress.” He took the critical decision of quitting Congress after a lot of deliberation. He added, “In the last 8-10 years I have felt that if there is one party that is truly national, it is BJP. Other parties are regional but this is national party.” He felt surrounded by politics in his former party, and he was unable to contribute and work for the benefit of people.
Prasada was the trusted subordinate of the Congress general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh. His proximity with the Gandhi family was quite well-known. Former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Harish Rawat shared his view, stating that Prasada’s exit was “a big slap” on his face. Rawat said that Prasada’s decision of quitting Congress was disheartening.
Prasada’s move of joining BJP had been expected, and it finally happened. It was right after BJP started its preparation for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. A senior BJP leader opined that Prasada’s joining might help the BJP to push a “different narrative” and blunt some of the rumours and speculation about the party. “This shows that the BJP is the most accepted party. The Gandhis can’t even keep their closest friends with them”, the leader boasted.
Prasada’s exit can be considered a significant loss for Congress. As a youth leader, he enjoyed popularity among the youth. Prasada was also a prominent Brahmin face for the party. Congress will now have to assess its strengths before the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. All the majority parties of Uttar Pradesh have begun their campaign preparations. UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has already started crisscrossing the state, publicising the government’s various development schemes.
Meanwhile, Congress has signalled that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who relocated from Delhi to Gurugram earlier, will be shifting her base of operations to Lucknow. Congress has not had a government in Uttar Pradesh in nearly 32 years. The party won only one seat in Rae Bareli and lost its seat in Amethi. Priyanka Gandhi, who visited Uttar Pradesh only twice this year, is set to lead Congress in the 2022 assembly election. The Congress party has decided to go solo in these Uttar Pradesh elections. Akhilesh Yadav, Samajwadi Party Chief, had rejected an alliance with Congress in Uttar Pradesh for the next assembly polls.
Rahul Gandhi took responsibility for his party’s disappointing loss in the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh. After losing Amethi, Rahul Gandhi shifted his entire focus to South India’s Wayanad, refusing to visit the former. Congress had won seven seats in the last assembly election in 2017. However, the tally over the period has gone down to five. Priyanka Gandhi will have to take advantage of time and pick up people’s issues on the ground. There is still a kind of confusion among people about the CM candidate for the Congress party. Priyanka Gandhi’s hesitation in declaring herself a CM candidate would be a risk. Rahul Gandhi’s “janeu dhaari” image will not help the party gain votes in Uttar Pradesh. Congress needs to start focusing on party meetings, interacting with workers and take feedback from the ground to strengthen the vote bank in Uttar Pradesh. The issues of farmers, youth, local issues like roads, electricity, and water need to be discussed. Priyanka Gandhi, herself, needs to visit the state to solve people’s problems. Visiting once in a while for campaigning will not help the Congress party assess their votes in Uttar Pradesh’s election.