New Delhi: In a major setback to Congress ahead of UP Assembly Elections, the party's former state president Rita Bahuguna Joshi on Thursday formally joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in New Delhi.
Speculations were already rife that she is likely to join BJP ahead of the crucial polls.
She was welcomed to the party by BJP national president Amit Shah.
"Today, I resigned from the Congress Party and joined the BJP. It was not an easy decision to take, but I took it for the betterment of the nation and the state after a long consideration. My political career has been of 27 years thus far, of which I spent 24 years with the Congress Party and for 10 months with the Samajwadi Party. I worked for the Congress with full dedication and honesty for 24 years," she said while addressing journalists after joining the BJP at its headquarters here.
"I am unhappy with incidents that took place in the past few days. Our country is struggling with terrorism and in this direction the Narendra Modi government took a very decisive decision when he gave a freehand to the India Army to cross the Line of Control (LoC), which included the will to accept any results that would have emerged out of the surgical strike, though the result was good," she said.
`Khoon ki dalali` barb upset me
"This happened for the first time and the success that we got was not only an achievement for the army but also for the government. When the whole world accepted that we carried out surgical strikes, I didn`t like the way the Congress and other parties questioned it. Words like `Khoon ki dalali` were used that saddened me," Joshi added.
'Prashant Kishor is not the poll director'
"Prashant Kishor could be a poll manager, but he certainly is not the poll director. But, unfortunately, the entire direction and leadership of the election has been given into his hands. How long we have to walk, when we will stand and sit, all these things were told to us a day before, despite the fact that leaders are grass-roots workers. Nothing could be more unfortunate than handing over the party on contract (to Prashant Kishor)," she said, adding that even senior leaders of the Congress are unable to put across their point in the party.
'People of UP not ready to accept Rahul'
"Sonia Gandhi understands the organisation; she used to listen to us irrespective of whatever decision she took; but, in the leadership of Rahulji even this is not possible (to get your point across). The people of Uttar Pradesh are not ready to accept his leadership so as the whole country. Even senior Congress leaders are not happy with him. However, the fact is that Rahul Gandhi was unable to provide the kind of leadership that a national party like the Congress needs. The people have rejected his leadership," she alleged, adding that only the BJP under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi could bring about development in Uttar Pradesh.
What Congress said?
Congress has dubbed Rita Bahuguna Joshi as a "betrayer", alleging that she has a family history of switching sides, and insisted that Amit Shah would not be able to gain anything in UP by amassing an "army of traitors".
Congress' UP unit chief Raj Babbar also dismissed her criticism of Rahul Gandhi, saying leaders like here who pursued "selfish politics" were afraid that the Congress Vice-President was bringing democracy in the party and asserted that Bahuguna's exit will have no bearing on Congress and its prospects in the poll-bound state.
Reacting to Joshi's exit, party general secretary and incharge of party affairs in UP Ghulam Nabi Azad said, "Opportunist leaders do not stick to one place. The real thing was that she is unlikely to win from her seat as the contest was tough."
Talking to a news channel, Congress leader Kapil Sibal said, "She is a "migratory bird" who left with his money."
“She came to me seeking funds for her election. I gave her the money. Then she joins the BJP," Sibal alleged.
Rita Bahuguna Joshi
The daughter of Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna, former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Joshi served as the U.P. Congress president from 2007-12. She holds an M.A. and a PhD degrees in history and is a professor in the Medieval and Modern History at the University of Allahabad.