Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

The exodus from the Congress continues


To the list of high-profile defections from the Congress to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2014, Himanta Biswa Sarma and Jyotiradit­ya Scindia, among others, former Union minister and Uttar Pradesh (UP) leader Jitin Prasada is the latest addition. Mr Prasada’s political switch reflects the diminished fortunes of the Congress and the persistent appeal of the BJP.

The Congress’s problems are well-known. Those who belong to Rahul Gandhi’s generation linked their political fortunes to his rise. But they now stare at an uncertain future. The party’s leadership structure is unclear and internal conflict resolution mechanisms are weak. There remain doubts over Mr Gandhi’s leadership and electoral appeal. The prospect of returning to power at the Centre is limited. Despite the recent backlash against the Centre on its Covid-19 mismanagem­ent, the BJP remains the favourite for 2024. In UP, the best-case scenario for the Congress is coming a respectabl­e fourth. And individual leaders are getting restless.

And that is when the BJP provides the pull factor. Conscious that these new entrants reinforce the optics of a strong BJP and a weak Congress, the party is more than open to outsiders. It would be a stretch to refer to Mr Prasada as a Brahmin leader, and with three successive electoral losses (2014, 2017 and 2019), there are serious questions about his mass base. But in UP, where Yogi Adityanath’s government is seen as pro-thakur, having Mr Prasada is a signal to Brahmins that the party is sensitive to their aspiration­s for representa­tion in the run-up to the polls. At a time when the BJP is defensive about its governance, the entry also helps shift the narrative back to its political appeal.

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