NEW DELHI: Imran Masood, an ex-MLA from western Uttar Pradesh who was expelled by the BSP in August, returned to the Congress on Saturday with the party describing it as ”ghar wapsi”.
Just before the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections last year, Masood had joined the Samajwadi Party in January 2022 but moved to the BSP after the polls. Masood, who has contested multiple times from Saharanpur and was elected MLA from Muzaffarabad seat in Saharanpur district in 2007, asserted that he had told his supporters that he would now not leave the Congress ”till going to the grave”.
He also said he would apologize to Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for letting her down.
Masood said Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra was transformational for politics and following the cross-country march, the Congress won Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, and now was going to win in four states.
Welcoming Masood into the party, Congress Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Shukla said this was Masood’s ”ghar wapsi” (homecoming) and he has now vowed to never leave the party.
Shukla also asserted that the Congress would win in at least four states in the upcoming assembly elections.
Elections are set to take place this year in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram.
Masood thanked Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, former party chief Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and AICC general secretary K C Venugopal for inducting him back in the party.
An influential Muslim leader from Saharanpur, Masood was arrested in March 2014 on charges of hate speech after he threatened to ”chop” Narendra Modi, who was the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, ”into pieces”. Masood, who was Congress candidate from Saharanpur for the Lok Sabha polls that year, made the remark during the election campaign.
Political observers see Masood’s return to the Congress fold as giving the party credence in laying claim to the Saharanpur seat in seat-sharing talks among Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) partners.
Asked about how many seats the Congress would contest in the Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh, state unit chief Ajay Rai said at the presser that as the party’s chief, he is strengthening the organisation in all 80 seats and it was up to the central leadership to decide on seat sharing within an alliance.
”I am the state unit president and in my capacity as the state unit chief, we are preparing on all 80 seats. Deciding on alliance is the job of the central leadership. I am working on all 80 seats as state unit president,” he said.
Shukla asserted that the INDIA bloc has been formed and its meetings have gone well. ”Opposition unity is looking strong, work on seat sharing will be done when elections are nearer, high command will decide on it after discussions with INDIA allies. Party works everywhere as it has to strengthen organization throughout the country,” Shukla said.
Asked if Rahul Gandhi could contest from Amethi, Rai said, ”People of Amethi are distressed. It is the people’s voice, Rahul ji has been MP from there multiple times. Gandhi family has represented from there for 40 years, they always worked for building things not destroying them.” A hospital was working for the welfare of the people and the Uttar Pradesh government shut it down inappropriately by getting its licence cancelled, he said, referring to the Sanjay Gandhi hospital in Amethi.
”I want to thank the Allahabad High Court that it stayed (the government order) and poor people are getting treated there now,” he said.
”The Congress has always worked to build there and it is the demand of the people there because Rahul Gandhi has never lied to the people,” he said. ”Smrti Irani had claimed that people will get sugar Rs 13 per Kg, what was that? It is the people’s voice, we will win the polls there with a bumper margin,” he said.
Rai was also asked whether Priyanka Gandhi could contest..
”I had not demanded, it was people’s demand. If the people’s demand is there, we will consider Priyanka ji’s name,” he said.
A nephew of former Union minister late Rasheed Masood, Imran Masood was elected MLA from Muzaffarabad seat (Behat seat after delimitation) in Saharanpur district in 2007 state elections.
He had also contested the Lok Sabha election on a Congress ticket in 2014 and 2019 from Saharanpur.
Announcing Masood’s expulsion in August, BSP Saharanpur district unit president Janeshwar Prasad had said he was warned on several occasions not to indulge in ”anti-party activities and indiscipline” but it did not yield any result, following which he had to be expelled.
Masood had questioned the district unit’s authority to expel him. ”I was included in the party by the BSP supremo (Mayawati). How can the district unit president expel me?” he had told reporters in Saharanpur. Congress’ media and publicity department head Pawan Khera also welcomed Masood into the party at the press conference along with AICC secretary Pradeep Narwal.
Source: Press Trust of India