NEW DELHI: Former Congress minister and Jharkhand Congress in-charge Ratanjit Pratap Singh (RPN Singh), a Doon school alumnus whose career in the Grand Old Party spans across three decades, on Tuesday joined the BJP, with likely indications that he will be fielded from the saffron party in Uttar Pradesh in the upcoming polls.
This is the fourth big exit from the Congress to BJP and second from Uttar Pradesh in last three years, earlier being Jyotiraditya Scindia (MP), Jitin Prasad (UP)and Capt Amarinder Singh (Punjab) from the neighbouring states. The setback for the Congress could not have come at a time when neither Priyanka Gandhi nor Rahul has started any tour of UP yet amid a disastrous performance since last 25 years in the Hindi heartland that almost decides the formation of government at Centre.
His induction was overseen by UP BJP party-incharge Dharmendra Pradhan, BJP co-incharge Anurag Thakur, BJP UP president Swatantra Dev Singh, UP deputy chief ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma. Scindia, who had switched from Congress to BJP in 2020, was also present at Singh’s induction.
“The way double engine governments of BJP at Centre and Uttar Pradesh are working together is a privilege for anyone to see its progress. The law and order situation of UP is an example of how a government is run any state,” Singh told reporters at his joining at BJP headquarters in Delhi. He was effusive on PM Narendra Modi, saying schemes launched by him during last few years had brought a raft of reforms in UP and with it huge number of beneficiaries.
Today, at a time, we are celebrating the formation of our great Republic, I begin a new chapter in my political journey. Jai Hind pic.twitter.com/O4jWyL0YDC
— RPN Singh (@SinghRPN) January 25, 2022
Singh’s entry may further diminish Congress’s prospects in Uttar Pradesh and that of Priyanka Gandhi, who had sidelined Capt, Scindia, Singh and Prasad — all of whom share Rahul’s credentials as Doon School alumni.
RPN has given up his membership from Congress. He wrote a letter to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi. Singh’s wife Sonia Singh is a journalist and has been the editor of English TV channel NDTV.
Singh had fought Lok Sabha election from Kushinagar, which he won in 2009 and lost in 2014 during the Modi wave.
He had also served as an MLA from Padrauna for three terms. He is likely to be pitted against former UP minister Swami Prasad Maurya, who won the last two state polls from the Padrauna seat.
“Today, at a time, we are celebrating the formation of our great Republic, I begin a new chapter in my political journey. Jai Hind,” Singh wrote on Twitter.
While Maurya has switched to Samajwadi Party, his daughter Sanghamitra is still a sitting MP from BJP.
Earlier, Prasada, once a close Rahul aide had joined the BJP and later became a minister in the Uttar Pradesh government while Scindia joined Modi government at Centre as Civil aviation minister last year during cabinet expansion.
In 2016, it was then Gandhi aide Himanta Biswa Sarma who had joined BJP. He last year became a chief minister of Assam.
Congress is facing a massive revolt within after a group called G-23 comprising as many leaders had written to Sonia Gandhi, seeking change in leadership.
In Uttar Pradesh alone, Congress has seen its Rae Bareli MLA Aditi Singh quitting the party and joining BJP. Earlier, its Saharanpur leader Imran Masood had left the Congress to join SP while former UP CM Kamlapati Triapthi;s grandson and UP vice president Lalitesh Tripathi had joined Trinamool Congress.