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Sibal slams fellow letter writer Jitin Prasada for switching to BJP

Sibal slams fellow letter writer Jitin Prasada for switching to BJP

Published:10 June 2021

Kapil Sibal, a prominent member of the Congress' group of 23 leaders who wrote to party chief Sonia Gandhi seeking organisational overhaul last year, on Thursday slammed fellow letter signatory Jitin Prasada for crossing over to the BJP and said it represented politics of "prasada" or personal gains.

New Delhi | Kapil Sibal, a prominent member of the Congress' group of 23 leaders who wrote to party chief Sonia Gandhi seeking organisational overhaul last year, on Thursday slammed fellow letter signatory Jitin Prasada for crossing over to the BJP and said it represented politics of "prasada" or personal gains.
The veteran Congress leader also said hypothetically if his party thinks of him as "dead wood" or of no utility, he may think of leaving, but would never join the BJP, asserting that such a switch could only happen "over my dead body".
In an interview with PTI, Sibal said if Jitin Prasada would have left the party unhappy over the response of the leadership on the concerns raised by the letter writers that would have been his personal choice and he was entitled to leave, but wondered why he decided to join the BJP.
"What is the rational basis for that except for 'prasada (personal gain) politics...We see this happening around the country," Sibal asserted.
Asked about the reforms not being implemented which he along with 22 other leaders had sought from the party, Sibal said that is for the top political leaders to decide and that at this stage he has no comments to offer.
"As long as we are in the Congress and we continue to embrace its ideology, I think all 22 of us, now that we are 22, and many more who were not part of the signed document will continue to raise our issues to strengthen the Congress and where we want the party to go and be the grand old party it was," he said.
"And if they tell me at any point in time that they don't need me, I will decide what to do, but as I said I will not join the BJP...over my dead body," the senior Congress leader asserted.
In a tweet earlier, Sibal had said the question is will Jitin Prasada get "prasada" from the BJP, or is he just a 'catch' for UP elections.
In such deals if 'ideology' doesn't matter changeover is easy, he tweeted.
Slamming Jitin Prasada's switch to the BJP and his hailing the saffron party, Sibal told PTI that the norm in politics now is "Prasada will go for prasada".
"From Aaya Ram Gaya Ram we are into 'prasada (personal gain) politics. We saw this happening recently in West Bengal where en-masse people left the TMC and joined the BJP in the hope that they will contest on a BJP ticket and win because Amit Shah was claiming 200 plus for the BJP. When they faced defeat, they all want to go back to the TMC," Sibal said.
'Aaya Ram Gaya Ram' was an expression used widely in politics in the 1990s referring to the frequent floor-crossing and switching of parties.
Hitting out at switchovers by leaders to the BJP in various states, Sibal said all this shows that there is no concept of principled politics in this country as witnessed in West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, among other places.
"It is all about prasada. How much prasada you are going to get, no regard for ideology. My criticism of what he (Jitin) has done is not that he has left the party; I cannot criticise him for that, that is his personal decision... but how does he justify to himself joining the BJP," he said.
"This is a party he (Jitin) abused for decades. He himself said that his association with the Congress and its ideology was for several decades. How then does he justify joining an ideology which he has opposed for three decades," Sibal asked.
The former Union minister said what concerns him is the way ideology is being put aside across the country. He cited the example of Haryana and the absence of any rationale in the coalition of the Chautalas and the BJP. It is just lust for power, he alleged.
Pressing his point, Sibal cited the example of the US and the UK, saying the Republicans may be in trouble at this moment but they are not joining the Democrats in America and the same was true of the Labour party and the Conservatives in the UK.
"Members of Parliaments in Europe do not indulge in such acrobatic switches for personal gain. Those too are functional democracies. Democracy in this country has become dysfunctional because it is not based on ideology," Sibal said.
The fight for power should be based on the clash of ideologies and not on personal "prasadas", he asserted.
Asked if he could ever think of leaving the party he has been with for decades, Sibal said "If the party considers that I have no value for it I might think of leaving it, but I would never join the BJP. This is because I am wedded to a particular ideology".
"Politics is not for personal gain, embracing ideologies which members of a party do not believe just for a Rajya Sabha seat or a position in the party or some other position. That is not my idea of politics," he asserted.
Expressing concern over the increasing trend of leaders switching between diametrically opposite ideologies, Sibal said the other real problem is that when people look at politicians behaving in this fashion they believe that these politicians are untrustworthy, unprincipled and have no ideology.
This has nothing to do with value-based politics. If workers see their leaders jettisoning value-based politics they too will do the same, Sibal argued.
"That weakens the foundations of democracy, the trust of the people in democratic principles and if the foundations of democracy get weakened, the structure one day will collapse. My worry is that my worry is not Jitin Prasada moving away from the Congress," he said.
Sibal also slammed the BJP for welcoming ‘prasada politics'. Its actions are equally unprincipled, he added.

Cong top brass must see ideological commitment while promoting leaders: Moily on Jitin exit
A day after Jitin Prasada switched to the BJP, senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily on Thursday said the Congress needs to undergo a "major surgery" and not depend just on legacy, asserting that the top leadership must give primacy to ideological commitment while assigning responsibility to leaders.
Alleging that Prasada had placed "personal ambition" over everything else, Moily said the Uttar Pradesh leader's ideological commitment was suspect from the beginning and the party winning zero seats in West Bengal under his charge showed that he was incompetent.
In an interview with PTI, Moily also said the top leadership should make a proper assessment of leaders in the party, asserting that "one cannot make people leaders when they do not deserve it".
The Congress has to rethink and re-strategise some of these things and then only the party can move up, the former Union minister said.
"Properly reorganise the party with proper people in positions and not put incompetent people (in positions of responsibility) who cannot deliver. This is a lesson, the Congress needs to make an introspection in the face of the developments," Moily said, making suggestions for the party's high command.
Asked if Prasada's exit from the Congress has a message for the party top brass, he said they must give importance to leaders' antecedents, ideology and their approach to the common people, while appointing them to positions of importance.
Moily, who had suggested after the 2019 polls debacle that the Congress has to undergo a major surgery to be competitive, said the party had long delayed that "major surgery" and it was "needed right now, there is no tomorrow".
"Next year we are facing assembly elections in seven states and then immediately parliamentary polls will be there after that (in 2024). If we don't perform well in the seven elections we will have more difficulty in the general elections," Moily told PTI.
"The Congress should not just hinge upon legacy, but we need to readjust ourselves and prepare ourselves for competitive politics played by (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi. It is not that Modi is undefeatable, he can be defeated by putting our party back on track. Major surgery is needed right now, there is no tomorrow," he asserted.
Moily was among the group of 23 leaders along with Prasada who had written to interim President Sonia Gandhi in August last year urging an organisational overhaul of the party. However, he had distanced himself from the Jammu meet of the G-23 and has backed the leadership of the Gandhi family.
Asked if the question mark over the leadership issue in the party with Sonia Gandhi being the interim chief since August 2019 was posing problems for the party, Moily said that with Sonia Gandhi at the helm, she can inspire and take decisions.
"We have a leader, so that is not an issue. With Sonia ji at the helm, there is no vacancy. She has to step up and perform the major surgery on the party. She has the determination, capacity and she can inspire the cadres," Moily said.
He asserted that while youngsters need to be promoted in the party, ideological orientation should be looked at in giving responsibilities.
"Their (the leaders') history will have to be seen, their commitment will have to be seen, their dynamism, approach and experience needs to be given weightage," Moily asserted.
Youngsters need to be encouraged but their ambition should be within the confines of the ideology of the party, he added.
Moily stressed that leadership should not be given to opportunists who can betray the party and are not capable of delivering.
Talking specifically about Prasada's switch to the BJP, he said it was only a question of personal ambition in Prasada's case.
"He (Prasada) could not make a mark in UP even though the Congress had picked him up as a young leader. He did not come up to the expectations," Moily said.
On Prasada being made the AICC in-charge of West Bengal last year, Moily said if a person with no ability is selected, "ultimately the result will be zero".
"Sometimes we also make a mistake and select wrong leaders who are not capable of delivering. Just because they speak in good English we think they are good leaders. We want mass leaders who can speak the language of the masses, which some of the leaders like Jitin Prasada were not speaking," he said.
"By choosing such people as state in-charges, that is how the party suffers. It was a totally wrong choice (to name Prasada as West Bengal in-charge). I knew that in such a big state like West Bengal with the Congress in a bad shape, a man without any experience and mass base, without a proper approach, who cannot articulate the Congress ideology, if given the charge, there would be failure," Moily said.
On the rumblings being faced by the Congress in its Punjab and Rajasthan units, Moily said everybody has to be taken into confidence and the party must depend upon people who can deliver the goods.
The saga of defections in the Congress, which began ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, continues unabated with Prasada jumping ship on Wednesday, triggering speculation of further exits.
Prasada followed in the footsteps of his former Congress colleague Jyotiraditya Scindia who quit the party to join the BJP in March last year. 


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