Hours after Rita Bahuguna Joshi joined the BJP on Thursday, Congress veteran and Working Committee member Anil Shastri made two predictions —- that she may return to the party when its fortunes revive and she would once again get “plum” posts. Joshi’s exit has already triggered a debate within the Congress. Several leaders that The Indian Express spoke to stressed on two aspects —- electoral compulsions and pragmatic politics may force the party to open its arms to leaders from other parties but their track record should be considered while giving them top organisational posts and that those who have left the party in search of greener pastures should not be taken back.
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“Workers all along have been complaining that people who are opportunists are always in the reckoning or rather given precedence over those leaders who have been loyal to the party and given their sweat and blood to it. This has been a cause of disgruntlement and frustration….it is perhaps okay to give tickets to those who join the party…but not such high posts….what is worse is that these people, when they come back, are treated on equal footing with people who have been with the party all along,” Shastri told The Indian Express.
Last night he tweeted: “Congress gave everything to Rita Joshi & made her a leader. She left the party in difficult times & may return when the going is good for us. And when she returns to the Congress, she will get everything including plum posts.The sincere & loyal will be as usual out of reckoning.”
Shastri and other leaders have several instances to cite. Beni Prasad Verma, who came to the Congress from the Samajwadi Party, was made a cabinet minister and inducted into the CWC. Even Raj Babbar, who led the Congress charge against Joshi on Thursday, was made chief of UP Congress just eight years after he joined the party. Recently, the party made former AIADMK man S Thirunavukkarasar president of its Tamil Nadu unit.
Senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said leaders had left the party when it faced bad times in 1967 and post-Emergency, but those leaders never really succeeded. “A Congressmen is advised in his own self interest to grit his teeth and stay with the party during bad times…sometimes there is a genuine reason…,” he said. Aiyar pointed out that the Congress constitution itself says that those who left the party cannot be considered for re-admission in six years.
AICC Secretary Prakash Joshi, who is in charge of Uttar Pradesh, said, “Congress should stop inducting people who have a track record of hopping parties. And those who have betrayed the party should not be allowed to come back. The party should question those leaders who advocate the return of such leaders in the future.”