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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 18 June 2024

An unusual switch amid ideological blur: BJP’s Hisar MP Brijendra Singh joins Congress

Singh was uncomfortable with the Agniveer scheme and the Modi government’s handling of the wrestlers’ protest. The Agniveer scheme and the wrestlers’ issue have indeed caused deep anguish among Jat voters in some states

Sanjay K. Jha New Delhi Published 11.03.24, 06:54 AM
BJP MP Brijendra Singh after joining the Congress in New Delhi on Sunday.

BJP MP Brijendra Singh after joining the Congress in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI photo

The 72-year-old Suresh Pachauri, who joined the Congress in 1972, defected to the BJP a few days ago citing the Opposition party’s rejection of the invite to attend the Ram temple consecration ceremony, burying the secular principles he followed for 52 years.

Pachauri, who was kept in the Rajya Sabha for 24 years by the Congress even though he never won any parliamentary election, did not explain whether he regrets wasting his life in a party that so fiercely opposed the RSS-BJP philosophy.

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Another Congress veteran, Arjun Modhwadia, joined the BJP after ferociously opposing Narendra Modi’s politics in the post-2002 phase as the president of the Gujarat unit. He was one of the most brutal critics of the RSS-BJP, calling Modi a monkey as well as a political terrorist. Modhwadia too relied on the same excuse — rejection of the invite to attend the Ayodhya ceremony.

Seasoned politicians like Pachauri and Modhwadia are different from greenhorns like Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jitin Prasada and Milind Deora, who cannot survive without the comforts of power, many believe. While it is fashionable among the younger lot to blame Rahul Gandhi for the desertions, even the older leaders do not feel obliged to explain to the people their ideological somersaults.

The Congress has grown on splits, high-profile exits and desertions. While veteran socialist leaders parted ways because of substantive ideological differences, the major split in 1969 was primarily because of some senior leaders’ personal dislike of Indira Gandhi. Later, Sharad Pawar led a revolt on the question of Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin. But none of these leaders embraced the RSS philosophy for a lucrative political career.

The absence of a cogent political or ideological reason for changing parties has almost buried the question of accountability to the voters. For a change, the BJP’s Hisar MP, Brijendra Singh, on Sunday joined the Congress, clearly saying he was
uncomfortable with the Agniveer scheme and the Modi government’s handling of the wrestlers’ protest. The Agniveer scheme and the wrestlers’ issue have indeed caused deep anguish among Jat voters in some states.

Contrast this with the reason given by former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan when he joined the BJP. He said he was impressed with the Prime Minister’s inclusive politics of “sabka saath, sabka vikas”. It doesn’t explain whether the party that his father S.B. Chavan, who was the Union home minister, and he himself served for decades and got richly rewarded was more or less inclusive than the BJP.

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