The defection of Jitin Prasada to the BJP is a personal blow for Rahul Gandhi as Prasada was considered close to the party scion with Gandhi on the eve of 2019 Lok Sabha elections taking a ride to the airport with Prasada in order to convince him to not leave the Indian National Congress. Prasada, a former Union Minister, was miffed with the current state of affairs of the party and was one of the G-23 signatories who demanded democratic reforms in the Indian National Congress. Prasada’s father, Jitendra Prasada had also dared to take on Sonia Gandhi as he unsuccessfully contested against her in 2000 for the post of party President.
Jitin Prasada was once the blue-eyed boy of the Indian National Congress, enjoyed close proximity with Rahul Gandhi and went on to become Union Minister during the ten-year tenure of the UPA from 2004-2014. However, since the emergence of Priyanka Gandhi, not only was he sidelined and miffed with the state of affairs in Uttar Pradesh, especially at his home turf in Shahjahanpur, as the sheer incompetence and entitlement of Priyanka Gandhi has virtually finished off the party’s prospects in next year’s UP Assembly elections before the campaigning could even begin.
Hindustan Times quoted an anonymous Congress leader as saying, “He (Jitin) told us that he was hardly consulted for UP [Uttar Pradesh] matters and what irked him was the change of guard in the Shahjahanpur district Congress unit without his knowledge.”
Another leader said, “He would often allege that former SP (Samajwadi Party) leaders who joined the Congress in Shahjahanpur were given more importance than people who served the party for years.”
Jitin Prasada perhaps miffed with the ineffective leadership of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra became a part of the coterie who advocated for intra-party reforms which would have meant the Gandhi family letting go of their stranglehold on the party.
Jitin just like his father, dared to take on Sonia Gandhi and ultimately bit the dust. Jitin’s father, Jitendra Prasada served as the vice-president of the Indian National Congress and was also the political advisor to two prime ministers of India, Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and PV Narasimha Rao in 1994.
In 1999, the INC faced a rebellion with senior leaders like Sharad Pawar, PA Sangma and Tariq Anwar openly speaking against Antonia Maino as they were not ready to accept her as the President of the party and eventually the Prime Minister of the country especially given her Italian nationality. The troika were promptly booted out of the party leaving only Rajesh Pilot and Jitendra Prasada as two leaders with enough influence and capabilities to challenge the hegemony of Sonia Gandhi.
Hence, in November 2000, Prasada contested the party election for the presidentship against Sonia which turned out to be a one-sided elections with Prasada being drubbed as he received a paltry 94 votes of he 7,542 polled.
A month after his unsuccessful effort to dislodge Sonia Gandhi, Prasada in an interview alleged that the election was fixed. He said, “After giving me an innings defeat, my sight possibly makes her (Sonia) feel reassured. The match was fixed behind my back, but I don’t claim that I would have won if she’d played it straight.”
Two months after the defeat against Sonia Gandhi in the party elections, Prasada suffered a massive brain haemorrhage. He passed away on 16 January 2001.
Jitin Prasada perhaps well aware of what happened to his father after he dared to take on Sonia Gandhi, chose to defect to the BJP as dislodging the Gandhi family from the INC will remain a pipe dream for the foreseeable future.