Former Union Minister Jitin Prasada, once close to Rahul Gandhi, is likely to quit the Congress today and cross over to the BJP shortly, sources say.
Ahead of the reported switch, he met with Union Minister Piyush Goyal.
Jitin Prasada, 47, will be the second high-profile former Rahul Gandhi aide to defect to the BJP since Jyotiraditya Scindia left last year. He had denied rumours in 2019 that he was leaving the Congress.
Mr Prasad’s frustration with his party of 20 years was no secret; he was part of the “G-23” or group of 23 Congress leaders who had written to party chief Sonia Gandhi last year calling for sweeping reforms, collective decision-making and “full-time, visible leadership”.
After that cataclysmic letter, he was among the few “dissenters” to be given any role; he was tasked with the Congress campaign in Bengal, which turned out to be a disappointment.
He went public with his criticism of his own party’s alliance with the Indian Secular Front, led by a cleric.
“Alliance decisions are taken keeping in mind the best interests of the party and the workers. Now is the time for everyone to join hands and work towards strengthening the prospects of the Congress in the poll-bound states,” Mr Prasada tweeted.
The former Lok Sabha MP from Dhaurahra in Uttar Pradesh was one of the Congress’s top leaders in India’s most politically vital state, and a big loss ahead of elections due in less than a year.
After the letter bomb, a Congress unit in Uttar Pradesh called for action against the G-23, with special mention of Mr Prasada and his family’s strained history with the Gandhis.
Congress veteran Jitendra Prasada had challenged Sonia Gandhi’s leadership of the party in 1999 and had contested against her for the post of party chief. He died in 2002.
Jitin Prasada, who was in Rahul Gandhi’s inner circle, went on to become Minister of State in the Manmohan Singh government.