borgata sports online,indian rupee to riyal,for want of a better term,How Jitin Prasada's defection to BJP may change the political equation ahead of critical UP polls next year

Times Now Digital
Updated Jun 10, 2021 | 13:34 IST
Jitin Prasada.
Jitin Prasada.  |  Photo Credit: PTI
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  • Having announced that he was quitting the Congress in favour of the BJP, Prasada expressed his frustration at being “unable to serve the interests of his people and society,” adding that he “started feeling that I was in a party surrounded by politics”
  • The 47-year old's defection, observers have noted, presents an opportunity to the BJP to transform the perception of the party which, under the leadership of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, is reported to have become increasingly pro-Thakur
  • The Brahmins, despite making up under 15 per cent of the state's voting constituents, are said to wield disproportionate influence and have often been cast as opinion-makers

Former Union Minister Jitin Prasada was, on Wednesday, formally inducted into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the saffron party's national headquarters, confirming what could amount to a significant blow to the electoral prospects of the Indian National Congress in the most politically important state, Uttar Pradesh next year. 

Having announced that he was quitting the Congress in favour of the BJP, Prasada expressed his frustration at being “unable to serve the interests of his people and society,” adding that he “started feeling that I was in a party surrounded by politics.”

The defection of Prasada, known to be one of closest aides to the Gandhi family, is the second high-profile departure from the Congress following Jyotiraditya Scindia's decision last year to swap allegiances. 

It has also, unsurprisingly, prompted speculation that more members of the Congress, which is currently reeling from an episode of in-fighting in another political significant state, Punjab, could fall into the embrace of the ruling party ahead of the crucial Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. 

Prasada's grievances with the Congress are well known having aligned himself with the 23-member group of Congress leaders who had written to party chief Sonia Gandhi last year, calling for widespread reforms and “full-time visible leadership.”

But amid rumours that he had grown disillusioned with party leadership to which he no longer had the ear of, Prasada had denied that he joined the BJP in 2019, with some sources claiming that Priyanka Vadra – in charge of the Congress rebuilding project in UP at the time – had convinced him to remain in the GOP's ranks. With the latest development, it appears the penny has finally dropped though. 

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The 47-year old's defection, observers have noted, presents an opportunity to the BJP to transform the perception of the party which, under the leadership of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, is reported to have become increasingly pro-Thakur (the chief minister's caste). 

Prasada, a Brahmin, is being viewed as an important political asset that can help the saffron party rebuild confidence among the Brahmins in the state who, reportedly, make up between 12 and 14 per cent of its voter base. The Brahmins, despite making up under 15 per cent of the state's voting constituents, are said to wield disproportionate influence and have often been cast as opinion-makers. 

Over the last 18 months or so, Prasada has, reportedly, personally made journeys across the state to meet with families affected by crimes like murder and rape, pledging to give them a greater political voice. He had also organised a Brahmin Chetana Manch across Uttar Pradesh to raise awareness of the issues that Brahmins faced, the success of which, some have said, the jury is still out on. This, it ought to be noted, has prompted doubts over the two-time Lok Sabha MPs actual influence over the upper caste base.

Nevertheless, it is believed that, although the BJP has more than 50 Brahmin MLAs, installed a Brahmin Deputy Chief Minister in Dinesh Sharma, and appointed Brijesh Pathak as a Cabinet Minister, there remain concerns over whether this is enough to sway the Brahmin vote ahead of the UP polls. The killing of Brahmin gangster Vikas Dubey while under police custody and the events that followed have only exacerbated Brahmin resentment of the state's ruling party. 

As such, roping in one of the most politically prominent Brahmin faces in Prasada's may work to calm caste tensions, it is believed. According to some reports, the decision to induct Prasada was made following stocktaking exercises conducted by BJP and RSS leaders in the state, that revealed rising Brahmin antipathy against the CM Adityanath-led government. 

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