Under attack from Congress leaders for joining BJP, Jitin Prasada on Thursday defended his move saying it was not an overnight decision and was motivated by only one factor — “national interest”. He further said the inaction on part of Congress over issues raised by its own leaders was also the reason behind his departure.
Prasada, who joined BJP on Wednesday, said it was a matter of “inner calling” and his move was driven by the wish to “work for the people”. Explaining what attracted him towards BJP, he told CNN-News18, “I saw PM Narendra Modi’s popularity and we tried to beat that and we could not…its one of things that attracted me to the BJP. Today PM Modi is the biggest leader and BJP is the only national party…Now that I have joined BJP I am in a better position to help people.”
Unhappy with their colleague’s decision to switch sides, Congress leaders have slammed Prasada for “blaming the Congress and the ideology for which he and his father worked.”
Earlier, Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge hit out at Prasada saying, “Jitin Prasada a was traditional Congressman and we gave him respect. He wasn’t ignored. He was the general secretary in-charge of Bengal in charge and was allowed to contest every time. Despite this, if he blames the Congress and the ideology for which he and his father worked, it’s sad.” Former Union minister and Congress leader Kapil Sibal questioned if he was merely being used as ‘catch’ by the BJP to win the quick approaching Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid said he feels very low that his colleague quit the party, but added that it was his choice. Meanwhile, M Veerappa Moily alleged that Prasada had placed “personal ambition” over everything else and his ideological commitment was suspect from the beginning and the party winning zero seats in West Bengal under his charge showed that he was incompetent.
Responding to the allegations, the Uttar Pradesh leader said, “Congressmen are free to air their views… As far as my ideology is concerned, there’s only one — national interest.”
Further, hitting back at Congress, Prasad questioned, “What ideology forced Congress to form a government with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra? What ideology made them ally with the Left in West Bengal during the recent elections?”
Defending his move, he said, “This was not an overnight decision. It was being deliberated over the last few years…in my states there was a huge disconnect between the party and people. It was a matter of inner calling. It had nothing to do with any individual.”
“I am thankful for all the posts and positions that I got in Congress….but this is not about that, it is about working for the people. If I don’t have the support then how can I do my work,” he said.
Highlighting the problems within the party, Prasad said, “We didn’t see a turn around even after we raised issues…Congress did not listen. This was not just about not being heard…there was no direction being given to make the turn around.” Prasad was among the signatories on the letter written to Sonia Gandhi by 23 senior leaders demanding an organisational change within the party in August 2020.
“This is not about an individual or someone’s style of functioning. It is about the Congress…if this was just about power I would not have waited to lose two elections,” said Prasada.
“Electoral defeats is one of the reason for me to leave…every one knows who the party head is…but are they using the available talents properly?” he added.
The former Congress leader refrained from commenting further on the party as he said, “I am no one to comment on Congress being rudderless…it is for the people on the ship to decide.”
On his new role in BJP, he said, “BJP has not promised anything…I am not a deal maker…I have been a Congressman and just because I switched sides, BJP is not going to offer me a position. Its up to the party to decide how to use me.”