The Shiv Sena on Friday described as "hilarious" the BJP's celebration over the induction of Uttar Pradesh leader Jitin Prasada into the party fold, but also said that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will have to create a strong team in his party.
In a shot in the arm for the BJP, Prasada, a Congress leader joined the BJP on Wednesday, months ahead of the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh scheduled for early next year. The 47-year former Union minister comes from a well-known Brahmin family of UP.
In an editorial in party mouthpiece 'Saamana', the Shiv Sena said Mr Prasada, a young leader, was of no use to the Congress and will remain so to the BJP.
"Jitin Prasada, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin pilot were young leaders and there were high expectations from them. There is already a vacuum in the Congress after the death of Ahmed Patel and Rajeev Satav. It is not good that young leaders are going the BJP way," the Sena said.
"Prasada, who had faced defeat in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, has finally joined the BJP. Prasada's family members were Congress loyalists. He was a minister in former prime minister Manmohan Singh's cabinet. However, he kept losing Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. The BJP has now started celebrating his induction into the party fold. The caste politics of Uttar Pradesh is behind it. Eye on UP's Brahmin vote bank is being said to be behind Prasada''s induction into the BJP," it said.
"But if Prasada had a hold over the Brahmin votes, why these votes weren't transferred to the Congress?" it asked.
The Sena said that BJP's traditional upper caste vote must be drifting away from the party.
"Till now, the BJP did not require any arithmetic or face in UP. Narendra Modi was everything. Ram mandir or Hindutva were the issues to win votes. But now, the situation is so bad that it wants support of Prasada," it said sarcastically.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led party said the important issue is why are the Congress leaders jumping ship.
Talking about the defection of Jyotiraditya Scindia to the BJP and the rebellion of Sachin Pilot, the Sena said that in Punjab, too, there is a rebellion in the Congress.
It, however, said that rebellion and factionalism is not restricted to the Congress alone.
"Despite being in position to win Kerala and Assam, the Congress couldn't do so. It lost Puducherry. But there is no discussion on what the Congress should do next and how it should resurrect itself .
Except in Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka, the Congress is fighting for its survival everywhere else. This political imbalance is harmful to the democracy," it said.
The Congress has done a lot of work in the pre-Indepedence era and even after that. The Congress has a contribution in building the nation. Even today, the 'Nehru-Gandhi'' identity of the country cannot be obliterated...The Congress has a strong hold at the grass root level, it said.
"Congress president Sonia Gandhi has ably carried out her responsibility in the party. Now, Rahul Gandhi has to create a strong team, which will be the answer to the challenge before the party," the Sena added.