Rumours were swirling on Monday of former Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi joining the BJP ahead of the state elections due early 2017.
The Congress denied that the 67-year-old Lucknow Cantonment legislator would follow her brother, former party leader and ex-Uttarakhand chief minister Vijay Bahuguna, to the BJP.
Though the Joshi camp didn’t comment, sources in the BJP said talks were on between the Congress leader and its leaders. A decision on her joining the party could be taken soon, they said.
Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee communications department chairman Satyadev Tripathi said there was no truth to the reports that Joshi, daughter of former chief minister late Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna, was set to walk out of the party.
In Delhi, senior party leader Manish Tewari said he wouldn’t comment on speculative reports.
“She is ill and to the best of my knowledge she was not joining any other party,” UPCC communications department vice-chairman Veerendra Madan said.
Bahuguna is said to be unhappy over the party’s choice of Sheila Dikshit, the former Delhi CM, as the chief ministerial candidate and feels marginalised after Raj Babbar was named the state chief.
She believes she has better credentials to be projected as a Brahmin chief ministerial face than Dikshit.
The developments come at a time when the Congress is trying to revive its fortunes in the country’s most populous state where it has been out of power for 27 years and has been reduced to a bit player by regional parties.
Party vice-president Rahul Gandhi recently concluded a month-long tour of the state to win over farmers, who form a sizable chunk of electorate and are battling mounting debts.
(with agency inputs)