"I never did politics of bargaining and joined the BJP in the capacity of a worker," RPN Singh said
Former Union minister RPN Singh, who recently crossed over to the BJP, said the 'ladki hoon' slogan coined by his old party will have no effect on the assembly polls, claiming that the Congress tickets have gone only to the wives of its leaders.
He also dismissed the impact of UP minister and Other Backward Class leader Swami Prasad Maurya switching over to the Samajwadi Party and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has breached caste barriers with development schemes guided by the inclusive mantra of "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vishwas".
Once a close aide of Rahul Gandhi, Ratanjit Pratap Narain Singh aka RPN said the Congress now does not exist as a party or an ideology.
Asked about Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's "Ladki hoon, lad sakti hoon" (I am girl and can fight) slogan, he mocked that a "poster girl" from that campaign had herself switched to the BJP.
"Every person gives a slogan in the election. If the Congress has given a slogan it will have no effect in the election because the tickets have been given to the wives of Congress leaders," he said.
Mr RPN belongs to the erstwhile princely state of Padrauna and is the son of former Union Minister CPN Singh. He was elected MLA from Padrauna for three consecutive terms beginning in 1996.
This time he is out of the electoral race but campaigning for BJP candidates in his home district Kushinagar. Polling in Kushinagar will be held in the sixth phase of the UP Assembly elections on March 3.
"I have clearly seen that Dalits, backwards, most backward and upper caste people have broken caste barriers after being motivated by the schemes, working style and efforts towards nation building of Prime Minister Narendra Modi," he said.
Mr Singh dismissed the suggestion that the BJP inducted him to compensate for the loss of support it suffered among the backward castes after Swami Prasad Maurya joined the SP. He said PM Modi has broken caste barriers and now people from all caste are with him.
He said he has was privileged to see the implementation in UP's Purvanchal of the kind of schemes that "we used to dream about".
Asked how he planned to counter Mr Maurya, who hails from the same area, Mr Singh said if people think they have become big leaders after winning elections on a BJP ticket and becoming ministers, "it's their mistake".
"Those who get tickets from the BJP win because of the working style of Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath," he said, cautioning against harbouring the "illusion of being a big leader".
On the fate of UP Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu, who has won twice from Tamkuhiraj assembly seat in Kushinagar district, Singh said it will be decided by the public.
Asked why he joined the BJP, Mr Singh said, "I worked in the Congress for 32 years with honesty, hard work and dedication. But now neither that party, nor its ideology is left." "I never did politics of bargaining and joined the BJP in the capacity of a worker, for the development of the country, UP and Purvanchal," he added.
On the question of his role in the BJP after the elections, he said, "I always put hard work, dedication, duty and the spirit of service ahead in politics and now I am working hard in BJP. Whatever work is given to me, I will do it with full dedication." He did not make a direct comment when asked about the manner in which Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi functioned, but said people are leaving their party now after serving it for decades.
Asked which party the BJP considers its rival in UP, Mr Singh said, "The rival of the BJP is the party that doesn't follow the Constitution, takes the side of oppressors, criminals and those who give shelter to criminals."