Former union minister and senior Congress leader RPN Singh quit the party on Tuesday, ahead of the UP election, and joined the BJP. UP will vote in seven phases from 10 February. The votes will be counted on 10 March. He has become the third major Congress leader to shift allegiance to the BJP after Jyotiraditya Scindia and Jitin Prasada. Last year, Jitin Prasada, a key Brahmin face of the party in UP, quit and joined the BJP. All three – Scindia, Prasada and RPN Singh – were close to the Gandhis and were part of the so-called inner circle of Rahul Gandhi. They have become the first to leave him and the party when the Congress is going through its most difficult phase.
Leaders like Scindia, Prasada and RPN Singh all got easy entry into the Congress’s high echelon because of their illustrious fathers who were famous leaders of the Congress. Unlike other grassroots workers who have to work hard to rise through the party ranks, this group of leaders who had shared a good rapport with top Congress leadership enjoyed power during the UPA era without doing any hard work. Their leaving the party should be a lesson for the Congress leadership. It is time it started promoting Congress leaders from the grassroots and stopped promoting leaders just because he or she is the son or daughter of some famous old Congress leader. It is too early to make out what kind of impact the decision of RPN Singh to leave the Congress will have on the outcome of the UP poll. However, for the BJP, the onboarding of Singh and Akhilesh Yadav’s relative Aparna Yadav fixes the optics after several backward caste leaders quit the party in recent weeks.