Soon after long-time Congress leader Jitin Prasada joined the BJP, he was given a special welcome by Jyotiraditya Scindia, who started it all a year ago.
“He is like my younger brother and I welcome him to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). I congratulate him,” Jyotiraditya Scindia, a BJP Rajya Sabha member, was quoted as telling news agency ANI.
Jitin Prasada, the Congress’s top Brahmin face in Uttar Pradesh, joined the BJP calling it the “only national party” in the country today. “I started feeling in the Congress that there is no point if you cannot be present for the people, if you are incapable of taking care of your people,” he said.
The exit will hurt the Congress in UP, where elections are due in less than a year. But more than that, it will help the BJP reset its narrative in UP at a time the Yogi Adityanath government is facing attacks.
The high profile defections also signal the Congress’s deep crisis in states where it faces a direct battle with the BJP.
Jyotiraditya Scindia quit the Congress in March last year and joined the BJP along with 22 MLAs, bringing down the party’s government in Madhya Pradesh.
The Congress in Madhya Pradesh had been in a constant state of infighting, with Mr Scindia pummeling his own Chief Minister, Kamal Nath, with allegations of corruption.
Before he quit his party of 19 years, sources close to him said he had been trying to meet with party chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi for months without luck.
Mr Scindia, Jitin Prasada and Sachin Pilot – another Congress rebel seen to be looking out – were all part of Rahul Gandhi’s trusted circle.
But since 2014, when the Congress lost power to the BJP, the party has been losing more elections than not, and amid questions over Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, his closest aides felt sidelined.
Recently, when Mr Gandhi taunted Mr Scindia about “becoming a backbencher in the BJP”, he retorted: “It would have been a different situation had Rahul Gandhi been concerned the same way as he is now, when I was in the Congress.”