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'I was not comfortable in BJP as I am a liberal'

Last updated on: March 12, 2024 21:12 IST

‘In the BJP I realised they are a different people with different mindset. They had a different ideology which was more rigid, and somewhere I was not comfortable.’

Brijendra Singh, Bharatiya Janata Party member of Parliament from Hisar, Haryana, has done something which is uncommon in today’s politics.

He has quit the ruling BJP to join the Congress.

Brijendra is the son of veteran Congress leader, Chaudhrary Birender Singh, who had joined the BJP in 2014.

Syed Firdaus Ashraf/ spoke to Brijendra Singh on why he took the decision.

When every second politician from the Congress seems to be quitting the party to join the BJP, you have gone the other way, quitting the BJP for the Congress party? Why?

This was not a sudden decision or something which happened immediately. It has been quite some time that I was not at all comfortable in the BJP.

There were certain issues that concern our side of the world that is North-West India, and especially my state Haryana.

What issues?

Agriculture and defence forces (Agniveer) are the two life blood for every person in Haryana. These issues were not handled in the right manner when protests erupted.

I was very uncomfortable since that time. The decision to quit the BJP was not done in a day but was building up in my mind. Finally, I got in touch with the Congress party a few months and decided to go with them in the upcoming elections.

Your father was a Congressman for four decades before he moved to the BJP and you too joined the party. Were you not able to adjust to the BJP culture. as your family connections with the Congress party go back a long way?

I come from the civil services and to continue family legacy I came into politics.

In 2019, the BJP offered me the Lok Sabha seat from Hisar and I contested and won the seat for them. After winning, I realised that I could not match intellectually or ideologically with the BJP.

This was the triggering point and then these incidents happened (farmers protest and Agniveer protests). These things combined to make me take the decision to quit the BJP.

What ideological difference did you feel between the Congress and BJP?

I don’t want to pinpoint anything in particular but as far as I am concerned the education and the upbringing that I had was of a different kind.

In the BJP I realised they are a different people with different mindset. They had a different ideology which was more rigid, and somewhere I was not comfortable because I am more of a liberal.

JNU ka padha hua hoon mein toh uss hisab se meri orientation dusri hai.

Moreover, the BJP is a cadre-based party and my father joined the BJP 10 years ago after being with the Congress for 42 years. You realise that somewhere you are an outsider in the party because you were never their cadre.

The BJP never accepts you unless you are an original cadre of the party.

This is not the case with Congress as it is not a cadre-based party. It has place for leaders and workers, which is more flexible in that sense compared to the BJP.

Expelled Congress leader Acharya Pramod Krisham indicated in an interview to me that Rahul Gandhi is not the right kind of person to lead the party. And all exit polls indicate that PM Modi is going to win the 2024 elections. Does this not worry you as a politician?

This decision of mine to quit the BJP was not a well-thought-out decision. At least, you cannot call me an opportunist in that sense (laughs).

People may be cynical but I will say that this decision to quit was more of a conscience call.

It is said that you were not going to get a BJP ticket, therefore you quit before being denied a ticket.

This is meaningless as I told you I was in touch with the Congress party for some months now. Nowhere the issue was I will join the Congress if I do not get a ticket to contest.

You defeated Dushyant Chautala by three lakh votes, whose party the JJP (Jannayak Janta Party) is in alliance with BJP in Haryana. One thought the BJP won’t let you go so easily because you have a record performance.

I did not discuss my leaving the party. It was only yesterday (Sunday) when it became public that I am quitting the BJP I got a few calls but by then it was too late.

Were you happy with the BJP-JJP alliance in Haryana?

It is an alliance of convenience to run the government. This is what the BJP thinks and if they are happy and comfortable with that so be it.

For the last 18 months I have been harping that this alliance is damaging the party’s prospects. I said in clear terms that there is no threat to the government even if it breaks ties with the JJP but nothing happened.

I don’t know why my words were never considered and they kept carrying on with the alliance.

Last year, on October 2, I had a rally not under any party flag but on my own to highlight that this alliance government is not good for the state but no attention was paid to our demand.  

You were outspoken against the BJP even when female wrestlers complained against Brij Bhushan Singh.

Be it wrestlers issue, farmers issue or Agnipath scheme, I have raised my voice against them in the past. Therefore, I am saying, my quitting the BJP is not something that has happened yesterday. It had been long in the making.

How many seats do you expect the Congress to win in Haryana?

Let me put it this way. Those who are riding a high horse thinking that they are sweeping everything, the truth will be far from that.

Syed Firdaus Ashraf