Jitin Prasada scotches reports of quitting Cong

Jitin Prasada scotches reports of quitting Cong

Jitin Prasada

Former Union minister and Congress leader Jitin Prasada on Friday dismissed "hypothetical" questions about his joining the BJP.

Prasada, considered a prominent Brahmin face of the Congress and a close aide of Rahul Gandhi, was reportedly upset over the selection of candidates in the seats adjoining his traditional Lok Sabha seat of Dhaurahra.

The Congress had announced Prasada's candidature from Dhaurahra in its first list of candidates announced on March 7.

"Why should I answer hypothetical questions," Prasada said when asked about reports claiming that he was joining the BJP.

Congress' chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala treated questions about Prasada's "imminent exit" with disdain.

"Jitinbhai and I go back a long way. I never use this kind of language but I can say it is bulls**t," Surjewala said.

Prasada said he had met AICC general secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia, the in-charge of western Uttar Pradesh, to discuss seat allocation in the state.

Prasada is the son of Congress veteran Jitendra Prasada, a key organisational leader who had worked with the organisation for decades and staunchly resisted offers to break away from the party in 1977.

The senior Prasada had not jumped ship when offers were made by Jayprakash Narayan in 1977, Arjun Singh in 1994 and Sharad Pawar in 1999.

Jitendra had also unsuccessfully contested the election for the post of Congress president against Sonia Gandhi.

Jitin Prasada had contested and won the 2004 Lok Sabha elections from his hometown of Shahjahanpur and went on the become one of the youngest ministers in 2008 during the UPA's first tenure.

In 2009, he won from adjacent Dhaurahra when Shahjahanpur became a reserved seat in the delimitation process.

The BJP announced its first list of 184 candidates on Thursday but did not declare a candidate for Dhaurahra, which further fuelled speculation about Prasada's exit.