Big blow to Congress, Rita Bahuguna joins BJP
In a huge setback to the Congress party ahead of Uttar Pradesh poll, former state UP chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi joined PM Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday.
She is the daughter of Congress stalwart Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna and former chief of the Congress party in UP. She formally joined the party in the presence of BJP president Amit Shah.
Rita Bahuguna Joshi was reportedly upset with her party projecting former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit as its chief ministerial face for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections.
Rita Bahuguna Joshi’s move to join the saffron party comes barely a month after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s month-long Kisan Yatra in various parts of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.
Speculations were rife about the possibility of Rita Bahuguna Joshi joining BJP ahead of the Assembly polls in the state early next year. A prominent Brahmin face of the party, she had served as Congress party UP president between 2007 and 2012.
Brahmins, estimated to constitute around 14 per cent of the electorate, are seen as an important vote bank in Uttar Pradesh where the BJP, Samajwadi Party and BSP seem locked in a close contest for the Assembly polls due next year, TOI reported.
Rita Bahuguna Joshi had led the Congress in the 2012 Assembly polls in UP. The Congress, after its success in UP in 2009 Lok Sabha elections where it had surprised many by winning 21 of the 80 seats, performed poorly in the 2012 Assembly elections. The Congress had won a mere 28 of the 403 seats despite extensive campaigning by party’s Rahul Gandhi.
Earlier this year, Vijay Bahuguna, who is Joshi’s brother, had split from the Congress in Uttarakhand to lead his splinter group of nine legislators out of the party. It had led to the imposition of the President’s Rule in the state. Vijay Bahuguna later joined the BJP.
Vijay Bahuguna was elected Uttarakhand chief minister after Congress won the Assembly polls in 2012, but was upset after he was asked to quit and the central leadership handed the reins to Harish Rawat. Along with UP, Assembly polls are also due in Uttarakhand.