For the Bahugunas blood is thicker than party ties | india-news | Hindustan Times
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For the Bahugunas blood is thicker than party ties

For the Bahugunas, the loyalty to the party has never come in the way of kinship. Vijay, the elder brother and former Uttarakhand chief minister has always remained thick with sister Rita and their youngest sibling, Shekhar.

india Updated: Oct 20, 2016 18:47 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Rita Bahuguna Joshi, former Uttar Pradesh Congress chief with BJP President Amit Shah while she joins the BJP Party at BJP HQ in New Delhi.
Rita Bahuguna Joshi, former Uttar Pradesh Congress chief with BJP President Amit Shah while she joins the BJP Party at BJP HQ in New Delhi.(Ajay Aggarwal/HT Photo)

On a cold night few years, Vijay Bahuguna met a Congress leader with a unique proposal: “As Rita (Bahuguna Joshi) is the UP Congress chief, make me the Uttarakhand unit chief and give a Rajya Sabha seat to Shekhar (Bahuguna).”

The Congress strategist and a confidante of Rahul Gandhi had only one answer: “I will lose my job if I even say this to him.”

For the Bahugunas, the loyalty to the party has never come in the way of kinship. Vijay, the elder brother and former Uttarakhand chief minister has always remained thick with sister Rita and their youngest sibling, Shekhar.

In a way, the siblings have followed the path of their more famous father Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna, a former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, who quit the Congress to float his own party and was famously defeated by Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan at Allahabad in the 1984 parliamentary polls.

On Thursday, Rita Bahuguna Joshi left the Congress to join the BJP, just five months after her elder brother led a failed coup to topple the Uttarakhand government.

In March, Vijay Bahuguna voted against the annual budget of the Congress-led government in the hilly state, prompting the Centre to impose President’s rule in the state. Two months later, Bahuguna along with some loyalists, joined the BJP. “He hopes to be projected as the chief minister candidate for the BJP in the state poll in 2017,” said a Congress leader considered close to the family.

The low-profile Sekhar, however, remains with the Congress.

Rita Bahuguna Joshi was the Congress’ state unit president in the country’s most populous state from 2007 to 2012. During her leadership, the Congress could improve its Lok Sabha tally from UP and she had emerged as the upper caste, Brahmin face of the party.

But now, after the Congress brought in Shiela Dikshit, another Brahmin woman as the chief ministerial candidate in UP, Rita Bahuguna Joshi was completely isolated. With brother Vijay already in the BJP, she didn’t find it difficult to find her new political home.