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New Delhi: Just weeks ahead of assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Congress leader R.P.N. Singh, a former Union minister, on Tuesday joined the BJP.
“This is a new beginning for me and I look forward to my contribution to nation building under the visionary leadership & guidance of the Honourable Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi, BJP president Shri @JPNadda ji & Honourable Home Minister @AmitShah ji,” Singh tweeted.
The BJP’s Uttar Pradesh in-charge and Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Jyotiraditya Scindia, who quit the Congress to join the BJP and is now a Union minister, were present to induct Singh into the saffron party.
Singh is the second big leader to exit from the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, after Jitin Prasada last year. Prasada joined the BJP and later became a minister in the Yogi Adityanath government. Singh was also the in-charge for Jharkhand affairs of the Congress, where the party is in a coalition government with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha.
He has represented the Padrauna assembly constituency and had defeated Swami Prasad Maurya from the Kushinagar in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. Maurya recently parted ways with the BJP and has joined the Samajwadi Party (SP), which is seen as the former’s primary rival in the state’s assembly elections.
Reacting to the development, the Congress on Tuesday said it is fighting an ideological battle in which only those with courage can carry on and not “cowards”. Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh said Singh was ”not fully committed” towards the party’s ideology and that is why he left this fight midway to join the saffron party.
Amba Prasad, a Congress MLA in Jharkhand, also accused Singh of trying to “destabilise” the Congress-JMM government in the state.
“For more than a year, R.P.N. Singh was trying to overthrow the Congress-JMM government of Jharkhand by colluding with the BJP. The party leadership was also constantly warned about this. Every true Congressman of Jharkhand is happy with his going to the BJP,” Prasad said in a tweet in Hindi.
Singh, in a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, said, “I hereby tender my resignation from the primary membership of the Congress party with immediate effect.”
“I thank you for providing me an opportunity to serve the nation, the people and the party,” he also said.
Sources told news agency PTI that the former Union minister was “upset” with the party leadership over his close associates being denied party tickets in Uttar Pradesh.
The BJP has lost a host of UP leaders, including three state ministers, to SP over the past few weeks.
(With PTI inputs)