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Is former Mumbai Congress chief Kripashankar Singh on his way to BJP?

While Singh has refuted such a possibility, his detractors in the party say he is in touch with senior BJP leaders, including a top leader in the union cabinet.

mumbai Updated: Feb 16, 2018 09:49 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Congress,BJP,Kripashankar Singh
While Singh has refuted such a possibility, his detractors in the party say he is in touch with senior BJP leaders, including a top leader in the union cabinet.(FILE)

Discharged from multi-crore disproportionate assets case, there is speculation that the former Mumbai Congress chief, Kripashankar Singh, may join the Bharatiya Janata Party in the coming days.

While Singh has refuted such a possibility, his detractors in the party say he is in touch with senior BJP leaders, including a top leader in the union cabinet.

Singh has been cleared by a special court of the allegations of the disproportionate assets as speaker of state legislative Assembly refused sanction to prosecute him under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Singh was a sitting legislator till October 2014. Both the refusals in response to the applications filed by the investigating agency Economic Offences Wing had come during the Congress-led government in June and October 2014.

Some leaders in the Mumbai unit of the Congress insisted that there was more than “that-meets-the-eye” in political parlance. “Several BJP leaders congratulated him personally and over the phone after the court order. It included Rajhans Singh, former Congress MLA, who recently joined the BJP as its vice-president. He has been in touch with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and shared the dais with him on a couple of occasions over the past few months. A union minister from Uttar Pradesh is keen on Kripashankar joining their fold in the city as the city unit does not have a face to woo north Indians. He is very close to Rita Bahuguna, former Congress leader and a member of state cabinet in BJP government in UP. Singh is believably keen on fighting the Lok Sabha elections from one of the six seats in Mumbai. The BJP is also tapping the possibility of contesting him from Jaunpur in UP,” a Congress leader close to the developments said, on condition of anonymity.

Significantly, Rajhans Singh, once a close associate of senior Congress leader Gurudas Kamat, did not get along well with Singh when he was in Congress.

Singh has not been active in the city Congress unit for the past three years and does not stand its chief Sanjay Nirupam. North Indian voters had preferred BJP in the civic polls held a year ago over the Congress, which is reeling under infighting among top city leaders.

“The BJP wants to strengthen the base further by inducting a strong north Indian leader in the city. Kripashankar may be the next face of north Indians in the city,” the Congress leader said. North Indians account for about 25% of vote share in the city.

Singh said, “I am happy that I have come clean of all the allegations, although I lost eight crucial years of my political career. I am still with the Congress and there is no plan of joining the BJP. It is also not fair to link the court decision with my relations with the BJP leadership in the state. Finally, the truth prevails, whether in power or not. One should not forget that I was booked when our party was in power. Singh said that he was restricted only to his constituency as he does not hold any official post in city unit.

Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam refused to comment on the issue.

First Published: Feb 16, 2018 09:48 IST