New Delhi, Lucknow:
Former Union Minister RPN Singh quit the Congress today and teased a “new chapter in his political journey” amid reports that he will switch to the BJP ahead of next month’s Uttar Pradesh election.
RPN Singh, who is from eastern UP’s Kushinagar, was among the Congress’ biggest leaders in the state and is on the list of star campaigners for the party announced just yesterday.
He posted a resignation letter addressed to Sonia Gandhi on Twitter.
“Today, at a time, we are celebrating the formation of our great Republic, I begin a new chapter in my political journey. Jai Hind,” he wrote, sharing his brief letter.
Today, at a time, we are celebrating the formation of our great Republic, I begin a new chapter in my political journey. Jai Hind pic.twitter.com/O4jWyL0YDC
— RPN Singh (@SinghRPN) January 25, 2022
Mr Singh is likely to contest as a BJP candidate in Padrauna, his stronghold, opposite Swami Prasad Maurya, who recently quit the BJP. Mr Singh is a prominent leader in the region and could step into the void left by Mr Maurya, say sources.
Mr Singh has been an MLA from Padrauna for three terms. He was elected as an MP from Kushinagar in 2009 but lost in 2014. Swami Prasad Maurya won the last two state polls from the Padrauna seat, first as a candidate of Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and then as a candidate of the BJP. In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls that RPN Singh won, Swami Prasad Maurya finished second.
Earlier today, Mr Singh changed his Twitter bio and dropped “Congress”, fuelling massive speculation. “My motto India, First, Always,” reads his bio, which earlier referred to his Congress designations including AICC (All India Congress Committee) in-charge.
Some reports said he was upset with the party leadership over his associates being denied tickets to contest in Uttar Pradesh.
This is the second big exit from the Congress in Uttar Pradesh after Jitin Prasada quit last year. Mr Prasada joined the BJP and later became a minister in the Uttar Pradesh government led by Yogi Adityanath.
The Congress has lost many top leaders over the past two years. The shock exit of Jyotiraditya Scindia in 2020 was among the triggers for a big churn in the party that led to 23 leaders writing to Sonia Gandhi asking for “visible and full-time” leadership and collective decision-making.
Mr Scindia, Mr Prasada and Mr Singh were all close Rahul Gandhi aides. Another member of that now-depleted club, Sachin Pilot, was placated recently with cabinet spots in Rajasthan after months of disenchantment but many believe it is an unstable truce.
“It’s sad. Many in-charges have come and gone, doesn’t matter. He must have decided after a lot of thinking. We’re true soldiers of Congress, we’ll live and die here. We think his decision is wrong,” Jharkhand Congress chief Rajesh Thakur told news agency ANI.