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Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi quits, joins Shiv Sena hours later

Early Friday morning, she quit the party’s Whatsapp groups with a message to colleagues from the communication department, thanking them for their love, support and encouragement.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 20, 2019 12:47 IST
Amrita Madhukalya
Amrita Madhukalya
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Priyanka Chaturvedi,Twitter bio,AICC Spokesperson’
On Wednesday, Priyanka Chaturvedi targeted the Congress leadership alleging that the partymen who misbehaved and threatened her were being let off with no punishment. (PTI FILE)

Less than a week before a crucial third phase of the Lok sabha elections, the Congress lost one of its key spokespersons, Priyanka Chaturvedi, as she resigned from the party on Thursday night. Hours later, the Shiv Sena inducted her amid speculations that she might be later given a Rajya Sabha berth.

“In the last few weeks certain things have convinced me that my services are not valued in the organisation and that I have reached the end of the road. At the same time I also feel that more time that I spend in this organisation will be at the cost of my self-respect and dignity,” she wrote in the letter while requesting Gandhi to accept her resignation. She posted the letter on Twitter.

Early Friday morning, she quit the party’s Whatsapp groups with a message to colleagues from the communication department, thanking them for their love, support and encouragement. “With a heavy heart, I must announce, that I have chosen to move on but that in no way means that I don’t hope to stay in touch with all of you,” read her message.

Watch: ‘Committed to work for Mumbai’: Priyanka Chaturvedi on joining Shiv Sena

She also thanked her all communication department colleagues as well as team head Randeep Singh Surjewala, who she described as “the best boss ever”. She signed off by saying that she had “thought over this very thoroughly”.

Chaturvedi has been a spokesperson for the party since 2014, right after its loss in the Lok Sabha elections. Just a week ago, she made headlines when she took on union minister Smriti Irani for irregularities in her nomination papers over her education credentials, singing a song to the tune of Irani’s TV show Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.

Soon after, she joined the Shiv Sena in presence of president Uddhav Thackeray, his son and party youth wing chief Aaditya Thackeray and senior leader Subhash Desai. She said she was let down by the Congress leadership as the issues had gone to the highest level in the party but no action was taken.

Welcoming Chaturvedi in his party, Thackeray said, “She confidently defended her party. She thought that the Sena is best choice and I welcome her to the Sena family.” Sources said that a Rajya Sabha ticket is on the cards.

“If I do not speak about those issues, then how can other women who want to come in the field of politics how can I empower them? I was sad when some people from the party made comments about me. They were suspended. But when they were reinstated I felt let down and sidelined as I has given 10 years to the party without any expectations,” she said.

The reinstatement of the people involved in the incident, including working president Ashok Singh Chakleshwar, general secretary Umesh Pandit, Pratap Singh, Mathura vice president Abdulla Jabbar, and party workers Giridhari Lal Pathak, Bhuri Singh Jayas, Praveen Thakur, and Yatendra Mukdam, did not go down well with her. While they were suspended in September last year, these party workers were reinstated for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

A former colleague from the communications team said that the Mathura incident aside, Chaturvedi was looking for a bigger role within the team, but with the Lok Sabha elections approaching, a rejig was difficult for the leadership. Some new appointments, too, had also soured matters.

She had also made a move to be a part of the team of party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s team, which too did not materialise. A selfie with Priyanka which she had posted on the day she landed at the AICC headquarters for the first time led to chief of staff of Rahul Gandhi’s office, K Raju to send directives that office bearers should refrain. Chaturvedi, sources said, had to also cancel a ticket to Varanasi to accompany Gandhi Vadra during her boat ride consequently.

While she denied asking for a ticket, Congress insiders in Mumbai said that she had sought the Mumbai North West constituency. The party, however, fielded former city unit chief Sanjay Nirupam from the seat which irked her. Since it was presumed that Mumbai Congress leaders did not want to contest from the Mumbai North seat, she was also hoping to be nominated from there but party president Milind Deora party chose to field actor Urmila Matondkar from the seat, who had just the party.

When the names of the candidates were released on March 25, and Priyanka found her name missing, she aired her grievances in a WhatsApp group of the party’s spokespeople on Thursday night. This is around the same time when she sent in her resignation letter to party president Rahul Gandhi.

Reacting to her exit, which comes barely a month after Tom Vadakkan joining the BJP, Surjewala took responsibility. “Every time a member of the Congress party leaves, it is a matter of pain for us. People look for career progressions and we wish them well, including Priyanka. This is a reflection on my leadership,” Surjewala told reporters.

(With inputs from HT Mumbai)

First Published: Apr 19, 2019 11:31 IST