Rajat Sharma

Why Congress leader R P N Singh joined BJP

AKBThe resignation of R P N Singh, a member of Rahul Gandhi’s core committee and a former minister in Dr Manmohan Singh’s cabinet, has come as a big jolt to the Congress in UP. The party is facing desertions by party workers and leaders. Even some candidates who were given party tickets have left the Congress, to either join the BJP or Samajwadi Party, main rivals in the assembly polls. R P N Singh was in the Congress for 32 years, but on the eve of Republic Day, he decided to join the BJP, saying that he wanted to embark a new path.

Hailing from an ex-ruler family of Kushinagar, R P N Singh belongs to Sainthwar Kurmi caste, an OBC. Singh was MLA thrice from Padrauna. He had once defeated Swami Prasad Maurya, the heavyweight OBC leader, from Kushinagar Lok Sabha seat. Maurya, who quit the BJP and joined SP, now faces the prospect of facing R P N Singh in the assembly polls. Singh joined the BJP after meeting Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president J P Nadda. He joined the BJP in the presence of UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, both the deputy CMs and the state BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh.

Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who is in-charge of UP BJP, revealed that he had been trying since 2004 to persuade both Jyotiraditya Scindia and R P N Singh to join BJP, and ultimately his efforts have borne fruit. A day before, the Congress had enlisted R P N Singh as one of its star campaigners, but the party had to face a jolt with his sudden departure. Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate described R P N Singh as a “coward”. UP Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu said, Singh was a “deadweight” not a “heavyweight” and his departure will not make any significant impact. Swami Prasad Maurya claimed that he had once defeated R P N Singh’s mother and had twice defeated candidates close to him in the past.

Congress leaders may call R P N Singh a “deadweight” but the fact remains that he was one of the four core pillars in Rahul Gandhi’s coterie. It was R P N Singh, who led from the front, when Rahul Gandhi started his “khaat yatra” from Deoria district in 2016. He belonged to Rahul’s core team that consisted of Jyotiraditya Scindia and Jitin Prasad. Now all these three young leaders are in BJP.

Rahul may now describe his former mates as “cowards”, but the man in the street may definitely ask why these “cowards” were made ministers at the Centre? Senior Congress leaders must self-introspect today why their former heavyweights like Capt Amarinder Singh of Punjab and Himanta Biswa Sarma on Assam have joined the BJP? As far as BJP leadership is concerned, it is surely going to use R P N Singh as a missile to fire at Swami Prasad Maurya, who has been claiming day in and day out that he would defeat the BJP in UP polls.

I doubt whether the Congress leadership would like to learn lessons. On Tuesday night, when it was announced that party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has been conferred Padma Bhushan, another party leader Jairam Ramesh made a subtle jibe on Twitter. Jairam Ramesh wrote: “Right thing to do. He wants to be Azad, not Ghulam”. It is up to readers to analyze the meaning of this cryptic tweet from a Congress leader about Ghulam Nabi Azad, one of the stalwarts of the group that has been calling for inner-party democracy.

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