Years after his father, Jitendra Prasada, challenged Sonia Gandhi in the election for the Congress president’s post in 2000, Jitin Prasada, 47, quit the party to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday. With this, another high-profile young Congress leader has left the party.
Congress insiders and people close to Jitin Prasada said he was increasingly unhappy with the state of affairs in Uttar Pradesh, where assembly polls are due next year, and particularly Shahjahanpur, his home turf. “He told us that he was hardly consulted for UP [Uttar Pradesh] matters and what irked him was the change of guard in the Shahjahanpur district Congress unit without his knowledge,” said a person aware of the matter, pleading anonymity.
A leader, who worked closely with Jitin Prasada, said: “He would often allege that former SP (Samajwadi Party) leaders who joined the Congress in Shahjahanpur were given more importance than people who served the party for years.”
Jitin Prasada, who was a Union minister in the previous Congress-led government, won Lok Sabha elections in 2004 and 2009. He lost the 2014 and 2019 elections while continuing to be Congress’s prominent Brahmin face in Uttar Pradesh. He was also among the 23 Congress leaders who wrote to Sonia Gandhi last year demanding sweeping changes in the party’s functioning.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who worked with Jitin Prasada closely during the March-April Bengal polls, said he knew the latter as a good person. “He was a prominent Brahmin face for our party. He must have joined the BJP for greener pastures.”
Jitin Prasada was once considered an integral part of team Rahul Gandhi. He has left the party when Gandhi is expected to return to the helm in a few months. Jitin Prasada’s exit comes months ahead of the party’s organisational election. He focused on West Bengal as the in-charge of the party in the state. But there too, he hardly campaigned and virtually had no say in the matters related to alliances, campaign, and poll management.
“He held a series of meetings in Delhi to strategise the poll campaign and pick an agency run it. Eventually, all his plans gathered dust as Bengal veterans of the party started controlling everything,” said another Congress leader.
In 2020, another prominent young leader, Jyotiraditya Scindia, left the Congress to join the BJP.
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who also defected to the BJP from Congress, welcomed Jitin Prasada to his party. “The wrecked and rudderless ‘Titanic’ continues to sink! Welcome @JitinPrasadaji to the BJP Family,” he tweeted.