Accusing Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi of "not listening" to party cadres, senior Congress leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi on Thursday joined the BJP here in the presence of party chief Amit Shah. She also gave up her membership of the Uttar Pradesh assembly.Joshi's decision to join BJP, months ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, is widely seen as a big jolt to the Congress, with which she was associated for 24 years. "Soniaji used to understand us. She might take any decision but used to listen to us. But even that is not possible under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi," Joshi told reporters after joining the Bharatiya Janata Party.In a fierce attack on Rahul Gandhi, Joshi said: "His leadership is not acceptable not just to Uttar Pradesh but to the entire nation. Even senior leaders of the state are angry. "The way he should have given leadership to a national party, he failed to do it seriously. His leadership is not acceptable to the people."Joshi said it was not an easy decision for her to quit the Congress but she took it in the interest of the country. Hailing the army's surgical strikes in Pakistani territory, Joshi said Rahul Gandhi's criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Congress demand for proof made her angry."It was a big accomplishment of the government and of the army. I was also happy when I came to know about the surgical strikes," she said, adding what made her angry was when proof of the strikes were sought and words like "khoon ki dalali" were used.
The Congress reacted with predictable disdain to Joshi's desertion.State Congress chief Raj Babbar said her defection would make no difference to the party in Uttar Pradesh just as her brother's leaving the Congress in Uttarakhand had no impact.The former Uttar Pradesh Congress Chief also took on Congress poll manager in Uttar Pradesh Prashant Kishor, saying "a poll manager can never be a poll director"."After the 2014 Lok Sabha debacle, the way Congress should have proceeded, it didn't."Joshi till not long ago was known as an ardent supporter of Rahul Gandhi. But on Thursday, she accused the Congress of handing over the whole election management to Prashant Kishor."Not only the direction of the election but the whole leadership was handed over to him. The party has lost its credibility... What can be more unfortunate than a party being given out on contact? Even powerful leaders were not allowed to speak freely," she said.Joshi also took on Uttar Pradesh's ruling Samajwadi Party and the main opposition Bahujan Samaj Party."Both the SP and BSP have looted the state. There is mafia raj in Uttar Pradesh. UP needs to be freed from both these parties."Joshi is daughter of the late Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna and a sister of former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, who joined the BJP some time back.Informed sources said Joshi was cut up with the party ever since it named former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as the Chief Ministerial candidate and making Raj Babbar the UP unit chief.Joshi is likely to be the BJP candidate from Lucknow Cantt against Mulayam Singh Yadav's younger daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav.