Rita Bahuguna Joshi, erstwhile UP Congress leader, has joined the BJP, ahead of Uttar Pradesh’s state elections in 2017. She parted with a stinging attack against Rahul Gandhi.

“Not just the UP Congress, but the entire nation is unhappy with the leadership of Rahul Gandhi,” she said, in presence  of BJP president Amit Shah. She said she was angry at Gandhi’s criticism of PM Modi after the Indian Army’s surgical strikes across the Line of Control.

“People have rejected Rahul Gandhi’s leadership. Only BJP and PM Modi can help the country,” she added.

Bahuguna had been with the Congress for 24 years, and said that the decision was a difficult one. Her brother, Vijay Bahuguna, who had served as the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, also deflected to the BJP in May this year.

Joshi was also reportedly upset after Sheila Dikshit was projected as the chief ministerial candidate and Brahmin face in the upcoming state elections. Her departure from the Congress will undercut its Brahmin outreach program. Brahmins are 14 per cent of the vote bank in Uttar Pradesh, and are seen as an important community to win over by both the BJP and the Congress.

Raj Babbar, the current Congress chief in Uttar Pradesh, dismissed Joshi’s departure, saying that it would not affect the party’s progress in the state.

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