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Tuesday, Nov 12, 2019

Buzz about Cong loyalist Ratna joining BJP at Yogi rally today

lucknow Updated: Oct 14, 2019 23:08 IST
Hindustantimes
         

Rajkumari Ratna Singh, the three-time former Congress MP from Pratapgarh, is tipped to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been busy engineering defections in opposition ranks ahead of the October 21 Uttar Pradesh assembly bypolls.

“Unless there is a last-minute change of script, she could well join the party, along with her supporters, in Pratapgarh where chief minister Yogi Adityanath would hold a rally (on Tuesday),” a BJP leader said though he added that the party leadership has kept the “fine print under wraps.”

Adityanath is scheduled to address the public meeting at Gadhwa Inter College ground in Pratapgarh, which is among the 11 assembly seats due for the bypolls.

The BJP’s Rajkumar Pal is contesting the assembly seat on ally Apna Dal (S) ticket. But neither local BJP nor Apna Dal (S) leaders appear too happy with the move.

It’s here that the former Congress MP, an erstwhile royalty from Kalakankar in Pratapgarh, is expected to give a psychological boost to the BJP campaign due to her political stature in the constituency, where her father Dinesh Singh (a minister in the Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi governments) was also popular.

If she joins the party, Ratna Singh would figure on a long list of Congress leaders considered close to Gandhi-Nehru family to have switched over to the BJP in UP. These leaders include Sanjay Sinh, his wife Amita Sinh and lawmaker Dinesh Pratap Singh, among several others

Local leaders in Pratapgarh said that Ratna Singh had even campaigned for the Congress candidate Neeraj Tripathi in this bypoll, which would make her entry into the BJP all the more embarrassing for the Congress.

On being asked over phone whether she would join the BJP at the rally on Tuesday, Ratna Singh refused to comment on the issue and disconnected the call.

Although a senior Congress leader from the area was making a last-ditch attempt to persuade the former MP not to cross over to the BJP, she appeared to have made up her mind to switch political loyalty.

Both local BJP and Congress leaders concede that the Congress candidate Neeraj Tripathi is putting up a ‘good show’.

“In this seat, the Samajwadi Party has fielded Brijesh Patel, son of Ram Chandra Verma, an influential Kurmi leader who was an associate of Apna Dal founder Sone Lal Patel. Naturally, with Apna Dal unable to get its own leader to contest the elections on a seat which its candidate had won in 2017 UP polls, some of Apna Dal supporters are silently supporting the SP. With elections becoming the upper caste vs backward here, the BJP is looking for ways to engage in damage control,” a BJP leader said.

When asked about Ratna Singh, newly appointed UPCC president Ajay Kumar ‘Lallu’ who was participating in a road show in Kanpur on Monday evening, said the party was going through changes in UP for meeting the challenges ahead. Although he had no information about the same, yet if anyone wanted to leave or join the party, it was his or her will, he said.

(WITH INPUTS FROM KENNETH JOHN IN PRAYAGRAJ)