Hours after quitting the Congress, former Union minister RPN Singh joined the BJP, ahead of the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.
He was formally welcomed to the party by Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan at an event which also attended by former Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Singh is slated to contest the assembly polls from his home constituency Padrauna.
“I have been in one party for the last 32 years, but today I must say that party is no longer what it used to be. Today, everyone knows that if there is one party that is working for the benefit of the people and working on building the nation, it is the BJP,” Singh told reporters.
“This is a new beginning for me and I look forward to my contribution to nation building under the visionary leadership and guidance of honourable prime minister Shri Narendra Modi, BJP president Shri JP Nadda and honourable home minister Amit Shahji (sic),” he tweeted.
Responding to Singh’s jump over to the saffron camp, the Congress said “cowards cannot fight” the battle that the party has waged against the government.
“The battle the Congress is putting up all across the country, particularly in Uttar Pradesh is a battle against government resources, its agencies. It’s a battle of ideology, truth and to fight a battle as strong pitched as this one you have to fight it with courage and a lot of dedication. I don’t think this fight is meant for cowards,” Congress spokesperson Surpiya Shrinate said while speaking to reporters.
“As Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said, to fight this battle you need to be on your toe, you need to have courage, you cannot be a coward and fight this battle,” she said referring to the purported words of the leader of the Congress’ campaign in Uttar Pradesh.
Earlier in the day, he announced on Twitter that he was starting a “new political journey”.
Singh was the Congress in-charge for Jharkhand, where the party is in power along with the JMM.
“Today, at a time, we are celebrating the formation of our great Republic, I begin a new chapter in my political journey. Jai Hind,” Singh tweeted.
In a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, he said: “I hereby tender my resignation from the primary membership of the Congress party with immediate effect.”
“I thank you for providing me an opportunity to serve the nation, the people and the party.”
Sources said he was upset with the party leadership over his close associates being denied party tickets in Uttar Pradesh.
Singh is a former MP from Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh and has served as Union minister of state for home affairs.
He hails from Padrauna and is a scion of the royal family.
Reports suggest Singh may contest as a BJP candidate in Padrauna, his stronghold, opposite Swami Prasad Maurya, who recently quit the BJP.
Singh has been an MLA from Padrauna for three terms. He was elected as an MP in 2009 but lost in 2014. Swami Prasad Maurya won the last two state polls from the Padrauna seat, first as a BSP candidate and then as a candidate of the BJP