UP polls: Rita Bahuguna Joshi joins BJP; new challenge for Rahul Gandhi, Prashant Kishor

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has his task cut out ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Election 2017. Before going out to the battlefield, the Congress second-in-command has an unenviable task of holding his army together as crumbling faith in his leadership is glaring all across with the former state party chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi joining the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Rita Bahuguna Joshi and BJP chief Amit Shah addressing the press conference. CNN-News18

Rita Bahuguna Joshi and BJP chief Amit Shah addressing the press conference. CNN-News18

Indications to the move were already seen on 29 September — the day of Indian Army's surgical strike on the launch pads across the Line of Control to prevent Pakistan from pushing in militants into India — when the former Uttar Pradesh Congress chief ended her Twitter hiatus and praised the government for the strikes.

Although Joshi chose to blame the Congress and a section of the media for her decision to quit Congress, a party she was a member for over 24 years out of her 27-year-old political career citing that she was appalled by the demand of proof of the surgical strikes. It appears the military mission was just the right platform to eject from the party and land into the BJP.

"I resigned from Congress today and joined BJP. It wasn't easy for me. Whatever the result of the surgical strikes may have been, the Modi government decided to take full responsibility. Congress leaders and the media started questioning the surgical strikes. I was deeply hurt. I even expressed my displeasure on Twitter. It was not called for. It inspired me to take this decision. This fight and struggle is very important. Our Army needs the support of the government and the nation," Joshi said at a press conference at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi with BJP president Amit Shah on her side.




Comments like khoon ki dalali by Rahul Gandhi recently blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi of politicising the surgical strikes only added ammunition to Joshi to prepare a base to exit the party.

"Rita Bahuguna Joshi, the former Uttar Pradesh Congress chief, can consider herself to be lucky. Her disillusionment and anguish with the Congress party and its leadership made national headlines. She should perhaps consider sending a thank you note to her current party's de-facto chief, Rahul Gandhi, for making it all possible," Firstpost author Sanjay Singh wrote in a recent piece.

Joshi also followed the same path when other party big shots gave the parting shot to the Congress — lashing out at Rahul Gandhi.

"Prashant Kishor can be a poll manager but not the poll director. Unfortunately, everything was given in his hands. I felt that Congress has lost the support of the people. People of Uttar Pradersh do not accept the leadership of Rahul Gandhi. Even strong leaders of the Pradesh cannot speak their views under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi,"she said.

Daughter of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna and sister of former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahugana Joshi, who had also recently joined the BJP, Rita headed the Congress in the state from 2007-12. She represented Lucknow Cantt constituency in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly before she tended her resignation from the post.

Reacting to the development, Uttar Pradesh Congress president Raj Babbar said, "The party won't be affected by this. No one understood our solidarity with the soldiers when the government was playing with the blood of the troops. There was not a flutter in the ground when news of this sort was already coming out."

Despite the shaky position his party is into, the former cinestar however displayed a brave face in front of the cameras.

"It's a fourth or fifth change in Rita Bahuguna's family. I don't want to talk about Rita Bahuguna because she is a woman and not a part of our party. It was told to us that Rita Bahuguna is sick. She should be prudent enough to understand that there will be no change from her shift," Babbar said.

When pointed out that many Congress leaders had actually quit the party raising questions on the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, he said, "Rahul is against godfather politics. There are people who do not believe in his ideology."

That Sheila Dikshit was paratrooped from New Delhi as a chief ministerial candidate of Congress might have given Rita major heartburns but for that perenially aggressive stunt she had against the 'communal politics' of the BJP won't be easy for her to shed.

"It is important to free Uttar Pradesh from communalism. I will do everything in my power to get BJP a majority in the Uttar Pradesh elections," Joshi said.

Indeed a shocker for Rahul Gandhi and a massive U-turn for Rita Bahuguna Joshi.

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Updated Date: Oct 20, 2016 16:43:59 IST

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