SO, RPN SINGH, popularly called ‘Richi’ in Khan Market, has also become a part of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It was in the works for a while. But the speed with which he exited from Congress perhaps got hastened with the exit of Swami Prasad Maurya from BJP.
RPN Singh and Swami Prasad Maurya have been arch rivals for many years. Often it was Maurya who would get the better of Singh. But the key question is did Singh leave simply because he wanted more from Congress or was he in danger of losing his own base?
When Jitin Prasada, the other Congress Young Turk left Congress and moved to BJP, I recall addressing this question to him in the course of a conversation. He had replied, “Congress doesn’t realise that its political ground has shifted beneath its feet. No matter who you are, being in the Congress party today is vastly reducing the probability of success in UP “.
Now let’s apply this filter to RPN Singh’s case.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, RPN Singh came at No 2 position, polling 2,84,511 votes, losing to BJP from Kushinagar. In 2019, he slipped to No 3, losing the second spot to Samajwadi Party and polling a total of 1,46,151 votes. Again BJP was No 1 party.
If we consider the Assembly segments of this area, in 2007, RPN Singh himself won from Padrauna. In 2012, Congress won 2 out of 7 Assembly segments. In 2017, it was reduced to mere 1 seat.
Let’s look at what had happened to Jitin Prasada, as well. It’s a similar tale of constant erosion in the vote base leading to his entry into BJP. In 2009, Jitin Prasada stood at No 2 position in Dhaurahra, polling 3,91,379 votes. In 2014, he slipped to number 4, polling 1,70,994 votes. And finally in 2019, while he stood No 3 his vote count had come down to 1,62,727 votes.
Even earlier, there were the likes of Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Jagdambika Pal, who switched sides and won elections handsomely.
What all this data points to is that Congress leaders are not sure of their party’s revival under the present leadership. Hence perhaps they are all on the lookout for greener pastures. From the team that was known as Rahul’s Young Turks, only two are left – Milind Deora and Sachin Pilot.
If Pilot doesn’t get the chief minister’s chair in the next election, he is set to move out as well. The one man still standing tall is Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, now in charge of UP polls, trying his best under the most adverse circumstances. If Rahul, Priyanka or Sonia Gandhi are serious about party’s revival, they would do well to reach out to him to look for some solutions.