Will Rita Bahuguna Joshi’s exit hurt Congress in UP?

Congress leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi started her political career as the Mayor of Allahabad during 1995-2000. She has stood for Lok Sabha elections twice on the Congress ticket but failed both times.

Written by Kanishka Singh | Updated: October 20, 2016 5:51 pm
rita-759 Senior Congress leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi. (Source: ANI)

Senior Congress leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi announced on Thursday that she will join the Bharatiya Janata Party. Joshi, who is MLA from Lucknow Cantt, took potshots at Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Congress’ Uttar Pradesh election strategist Prashant Kishor. Her brother and former Uttarakhand chief minister Vijay Bahuguna had also recently defected to the BJP in Uttarakhand. She had come under pressure by the party during that time to change her brother’s mind but after she failed, she was apparently sidelined in her party.

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Joshi claimed in a press conference that leaders in the party do not accept Rahul Gandhi’s leadership just like the people reject it. It is unlike Sonia Gandhi’s command, she claimed. She also highlighted tensions between her and party strategist Prashant Kishor saying he can be a poll manager but not a poll director.

Rita Bahuguna is the daughter of former UP chief minister Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna who was also a freedom fighter. Rita Bahuguna was serving as the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president before Raj Babbar replaced him on Rahul Gandhi’s and Prashant Kishor’s reshuffle of the party unit before the election.

She holds a PhD in History and is also professor in Medieval and Modern History, University of Allahabad. Rita has won several leadership accolades during her political career including the “Most Distinguished Woman in South Asia” award by the United Nations Award of Excellence. She is also a former vice president of the women’s body NCW and president of the All India Mahila Congress.

She started her political career as the Mayor of Allahabad during 1995-2000. She has stood for Lok Sabha elections twice on the Congress ticket but failed both times. In 2012, she was elected to the UP Assembly.

In 2009, she was sent to judicial custody for making derogatory remarks on the then UP CM Mayawati. In May 2011, Joshi was arrested by Meerut Police along with Rahul Gandhi and party General Secretary Digvijaya Singh for participating in the Bhatta Parsaul agitation over farmers’ land acquisition by the government.