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Ideology out for summer vacation, Congress Group of 23 becomes 22 with Jitin Prasada exit but who’s next?

The Congress, which is already reeling from successive electoral losses and bickering, suffered another setback on Wednesday as former Union Minister Jitin Prasada joined the BJP. The move comes on the back of his long-running differences with the Congress leadership while other reports claimed Prasada had wanted to be the UP Congress Committee chief. But is this really a setback or a favour for the party?

The two-time MP was among the 23 leaders who had written to then Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi in 2020 demanding organisational changes and for introspection. Formally, the Congress is yet to reply to the letter though some of the so-called rebels found place in inter-party posts. Prasada’s move comes after another Young Turk Jyotiraditya Scindia scrammed into the BJP in 2020 leading to the fall of the Kamal Nath government. Similarly, Sachin Pilot’s rebellion against Ashok Gehlot was managed by the party with some promises that are yet to be fulfilled.

Why Jitin Prasada? Why now?

Jitin Prasada’s move is a different kettle of fish though. A Brahmin face, his move to the BJP mirrors that of Rita Bahuguna Joshi’s in 2016. His injection is expected to balance out the Thakur-Brahmin equation in the BJP which is heading for polls. It is not immediately clear if the BJP will ask Prasada to contest the 2022 polls.

The BJP’s discomfort with the public perception of the Yogi Adityanath government lies at the heart of its efforts to come up with failsafes. Opposition parties have tried to corner Yogi Adityanath on his government’s response to the Covid-19 situation, even as the government says it has efficiently dealt with the brutal second wave. But the heightened political activity in the state indicates that not everyone in the BJP has bought into the defence.

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Congress cup of woes now down to 22

The Congress G23 list includes five former chief ministers, MPs Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari, members of Congress Working Committee and over a dozen former union ministers with years of political experience.

1.    Ghulam Nabi Azad: A former Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha and a party veteran from Sanjay Gandhi days.

2.    Kapil Sibal: Former Chandni Chowk MP and former union minister.

3.    Shashi Tharoor: Thiruvananthapuram MP since 2009.

4.    Manish Tewari: Former Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting.

5.    Anand Sharma: Former Union Minister and had been Deputy Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, but has been relieved of upper house party duties.

6.    Pallath Joseph Kurian: Former Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha till June 2018, he had been Union Minister several times.

7.    Renuka Chaudhary: Rajya Sabha member from Andhra Pradesh and former union minister.

8. Milind Deora: A former Union Minister of State and was MP from Mumbai in the 15th Lok Sabha.

9. Mukul Wasnik: Former Union Minister.

10. Bhupendra Singh Hooda: Former Chief Minister, Haryana.

11.  Rajinder Kaur Bhattal: A former Punjab Chief Minister.

12. Marpadi Veerappa Moily: A former Karnataka CM and union minister.

13.  Prithviraj Chavan: Former Mhaarshtra CM and former PMO minister.

14.  Ajay Singh, former Leader of Opposition of Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly, also has been elected 5 times from Churhat Vidhan Sabha constituency. Singh is the son of Arjun Singh, former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and former Union Minister.

15. Raj Babbar: Actor, three-time Lok Sabha MP and a two-time Rajya Sabha member. He was president of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee.

16.  Arvind Singh Lovely: Congress prodigal from Delhi, left party briefly for the BJP in 2017 but now back in.

17. Kaul Singh Thakur: Leader from Himachal Pradesh, he served as PCC president twice despite strong opposition from Virbhadra Singh and Vidya Stokes.

18. Kuldeep Sharma: Former MP from Haryana.

19. Yoganand Shastri: Speaker of Delhi Legislative Assembly from 2008 to 2013.

20. Sandeep Dixit: Son of former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, represented East Delhi constituency in Lok Sabha.

21.  Vivek Tankha: Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, senior advocate at the Supreme Court of India.

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