In a dramatic turn of events ahead of the 2019 General Election, Congress’ Raebareli MLC Dinesh Pratap Singh and his brother Rakesh Singh have quit the party. The duo accused the party high command of being indifferent to local leaders.

CNN-News18 reported that the two leaders were apparently unhappy with local leaders not being given credit for their work. They also complained about how local leaders were not allowed to grow.

They are likely to join the Bharatiya Janata Party in the presence of party chief Amit Shah, reports said.

Singh’s younger brother Rakesh Singh is a Congress MLA from the Harchandpur assembly seat. Another brother Avadhesh is the zila panchayat president of Raebareli. He is the lone zila panchayat president Congress has in the entire state. Dinesh Singh’s daughter-in-law is a block in-charge in Raebareli.

“Panchvati (their ancestral palace in Raebareli) is not with Congress,” Dinesh Singh told ThePrint, speaking over the phone from Raebareli.

“I will do a press conference tomorrow or the day after and then explain the reasons for the resignation,” he added.

After their resignation, Dinesh and Rakesh Singh will lose their membership from the assembly and legislative council respectively.

Singh is believed to share a close relationship with Congress president Rahul Gandhi and senior party leader Sonia Gandhi. He is also known to be a close aide of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

He was elected to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council from the local body quota. The MLC’s third brother, Rakesh, was elected to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly on a Congress ticket in the 2017 Assembly election.

In April last year, the MLC was suspended from the primary membership of the Congress for an indefinite period for ‘anti-party’ activities. The MLC was accused of misbehaving with the general secretary of the Raebareli Congress committee and some of the local party leaders.

Singh was served a suspension notice by Raebareli District Congress Committee president VK Shukla. In the notice, the MLC was accused of physically assaulting Manoj Paswan, general secretary of the district Congress committee, and abducting panchayat members who had moved a no-confidence motion against his brother Awadhesh, a district panchayat president in Raebareli.

Local Congress leaders also alleged that Singh and his brother Awadhesh were trying to unseat AICC general secretary and Sonia Gandhi’s constituency representative Kishori Lal Sharma.

In a press conference, the MLC had hinted at his strained relationship with Sharma, saying that he and KL Sharma could not coexist in Raebareli and in Congress. Charges of nepotism were also levelled against the MLC.

This is a major jolt to the Congress as it was looking to capitalize on the events for the past couple of months to decrease BJP’s clout in UP. But not able to pacify its local leaders is costing the Congress dearly.

Raebareli has six assembly constituencies of which the BJP won three, the Congress two and SP won one seat in last year’s assembly polls. The number becomes significant for Congress, especially when the party has a total of just seven MLAs in the assembly.

The BJP is already targeting Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi and the party is campaigning hard to give him a tough fight in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

On 4 April, the local BJP unit in Amethi sent 200 elderly party workers on a pilgrimage to Haridwar in five Luxury buses. This is an initiative by Union minister Smriti Irani to strengthen the party in the constituency in order to be battle ready for 2019.

Irani herself will be on a two-day visit of Amethi on 13 and 14 April during which she will meet gram pradhans of the region.

After Irani, Congress president Rahul Gandhi will visit Amethi on a two-day trip starting from 16 April.

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