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Saturday, June 19, 2021

‘Over my dead body’: Kapil Sibal rules out joining BJP, slams Jitin Prasada’s defection

Jitin Prasada and Kapil Sibal were among the 23 signatories of the letter sent to interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi last year seeking radical changes in the party.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: June 10, 2021 6:25:20 pm
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal (Express file photo by Renuka Puri)

A day after Jitin Prasada switched sides to the BJP, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal Thursday categorically ruled out joining the saffron party.

Prasada and Sibal were among the 23 signatories of the letter sent to interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi last year seeking radical changes in the party.

“We’re true Congressmen, never in my life will I think of joining BJP, like over my dead body. It could be that if Congress leadership informs me to leave. I may think of leaving party on that basis but won’t join BJP,” Sibal was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

On Wednesday, Prasada, who was considered close to former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, joined the BJP ahead of the crucial Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh early next year.

Sibal said if Prasada would have left the party unhappy over the response of the leadership on the concerns raised by the letter writers, that would have been his personal choice and he was entitled to leave, but wondered why he decided to join the BJP.

“What is the rational basis for that except for ‘prasada (personal gain) politics… We see this happening around the country,” Sibal said.

The senior leader also exuded confidence that the Congress leadership would listen and resolve its internal issues. “…because nothing survives without listening; no corporate structure can survive without listening and so is with politics. If you don’t listen, you will fall into bad days.”

Meanwhile, in a tweet, Sibal took a swipe at Prasada asking if will he get “prasada” from BJP or he was just a “catch” for the UP elections.

Prasada’s exit marks yet another setback to the party which has seen a steady erosion of leaders since 2014. He is the second young face considered close to Rahul Gandhi to leave, after Jyotiraditya Scindia’s shift to the BJP last year. Both the young leaders leave behind a major vacuum in the Congress, having served as ministers in the erstwhile UPA government and having been part of the inner circle of Rahul Gandhi.

Earlier in the day, senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily said the Congress needs to undergo a “major surgery” and not depend just on legacy, asserting that the top leadership must give primacy to ideological commitment while giving responsibility to leaders.

BJP National President JP Nadda greets Jitin Prasada after he joined BJP, at his residence in New Delhi, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. (PTI)

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.

In an interview with PTI, Moily also said the top leadership should make a proper assessment of leaders in the party, asserting that “one cannot make people leaders when they do not deserve it”.

The Congress has to rethink and re-strategise some of these things and then only the party can come up, added the Union minister.

On Wednesday, Prasada lavished praise on PM Narendra Modi and said he had decided to leave the Congress as he was unable to serve the people while in the party.

According to Prasada, “BJP is the only real political party and it is the only national party.” He also claimed that he felt he was “only surrounded by politics” in his former party, and that he had been unable “to contribute and do my work for the benefit of the people”.

Meanwhile, Congress leaders in Uttar Pradesh have termed Jitin Prasada’s exit from the party as “vishwas ghaat [betrayal]” of the party’s ideology, and said his move to the BJP was unfortunate and done out of “vested interests”.

With PTI, ANI inputs

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