Former Union minister Jitin Prasada’s decision to contest the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls from Tilhar seat in Shahjahanpur may have come as a surprise to many. However, the move may help the Congress groom a young upper-caste leader in the state – thereby filling a significant political void.
A close confidant of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Jitin is considered a well-connected Brahmin face of his party. He was even projected as the potential chief ministerial candidate of the party before former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit entered the scene.
Jitin, the son of late Congress veteran Jitendra Prasada, had suggested in 2015 that Mandal politics be given a relook – creating a flutter in party circles. Speaking at a party convention in Mathura, he said: “There is huge resentment in the society, and it’s not among upper castes alone. Even members of the other backward classes have been at a disadvantage because only a handful benefited from the implementation of the Mandal Commission report on reservation. The Congress should discuss its future course of action.”
Though the Congress decided against taking the issue any further, Jitin’s observations evoked a positive response from a section of the party.
“Jitin Prasada is a senior party leader. His decision to contest the 2017 assembly election is not without reason. If the Congress-Samajwadi Party alliance wins the assembly election, he will be a key Congress leader in the state. He will occupy an important position in the alliance,” said a senior Congress leader.
Jitin’s decision to contest the assembly election may also help the party build an upper-caste leadership in Uttar Pradesh, ahead of the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
However, the leader said it was still too soon to say if the youth leader would be the state’s deputy chief minister if the Congress-Samajwadi Party alliance were to emerge victorious in the assembly polls.