A day after Jitin Prasada switched to the BJP, senior Congress leaders expressed displeasure at their colleague’s decision and slammed him for “blaming the Congress and the ideology for which he and his father worked.”
“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,” Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge.
But speaking to CNN-News18, Prasada justified his switch to the BJP and said the only ideology he follows is that which is in national interest. “It was a difficult decision to make. Over a period of time, the Congress suffered a disconnect with people. I joined in politics to serve the people. As far as the ideology goes, there is only one — national interest. Joining hands with Shiv Sena (in Maharashtra) is a compromise in ideology too. It’s not about the role, it’s about the work.”
Taking a jibe at Prasada for his exit, 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. “Jitin Prasada Joins BJP. The question is will he get “prasada” from BJP or is he just a ‘catch’ for UP elections? In such deals if ‘ideology’ doesn’t matter changeover is easy,” Sibal tweeted on Thursday.
In an interview to India Today, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid said he feels very low that his colleague quit the party, but added that it was his choice. “I feel very, very bad. I feel very low because his father was a good friend of mine. He’s been a very good friend of mine. We’ve all liked him as a younger brother, as a younger person and I’m deeply sad that he decided to go. But that’s his choice, his decision. Let it rest there,” Khurshid said.
Senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily expressed a similar sentiment, saying the Congress needs to undergo a “major surgery" and not depend just on legacy. He said the top leadership must give primacy to ideological commitment while giving responsibility to leaders.
Alleging that Prasada had placed “personal ambition" over everything else, Moily said the Uttar Pradesh leader’s ideological commitment was suspect from the beginning and the party winning zero seats in West Bengal under his charge showed that he was incompetent.
“He (Prasada) could not make a mark in UP even though the Congress had picked him up as a young leader. He did not come up to the expectations," Moily said.
On Prasada being made the AICC in-charge of West Bengal last year, Moily said if a person with no ability is selected, “ultimately the result will be zero". “Sometimes we also make a mistake and select wrong leaders who are not capable of delivering. Just because they speak in good English we think they are good leaders. We want mass leaders who can speak the language of the masses, which some of the leaders like Jitin Prasada were not speaking," he said.
“It was a totally wrong choice (to name Prasada as West Bengal in-charge). I knew that in such a big state like West Bengal with the Congress in a bad shape, a man without any experience and mass base, without a proper approach, who cannot articulate the Congress ideology, if given the charge, there would be failure," Moily said.
The saga of defections in the Congress, which began ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, continues unabated with Prasada jumping ship on Wednesday, triggering speculation of further exits. Prasada followed in the footsteps of his former Congress colleague Jyotiraditya Scindia who quit the party to join the BJP in March last year.