NEW DELHI : Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s 63-year-old niece Karuna Shukla on Thursday joined the Congress, spitting venom at the Bharatiya Janata Party she served for 32 years for the ‘intolerable suffocating grip of a faction’ and slamming its PM candidate Narendra Modi for ‘plain dishonesty’ in promising to serve the country.
One who did not fulfill the duty of a husband discarding his wife to fend for herself or ‘Rajdharma’ as the chief minister is not trustworthy and “if such a person talks of discharging Rashtradharma, I will call it plain dishonesty,” she said while being received at the AICC headquarters here with great fanfare in the presence of the senior party leaders.
In her introductory remarks she said, “I was in the BJP for the last 32 years but the decline I saw after Vajpayee’s illness was very painful. One faction has captured the party. Tolerating what was going on for the last seven-eight years had become impossible.”
Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said her decision to join the Congress carries a great symbolic value as she had deserted the BJP owing to the cultural degeneration of the party after Vajpayee’s exit. Former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi described the development as a political milestone.
Karuna Shukla, who was the BJP’s national vice-president before she quit the party in October on the eve of the Assembly elections, is from Chhattisgarh and as such all the senior Congress leaders from the state were present besides the veterans like AICC treasurer Motilal Vora and Chhattisgarh in-charge general secretary B K Hariprasad. She had a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi before she was ushered into the AICC headquarters for a press conference.
She straightaway launched into an acerbic attack on Modi and declared that the people of India should never entrust the responsibility of governing the nation to such a person.
“The BJP has made a person its prime ministerial candidate who could not uphold the dharma of a husband, the dharma of raj (governance) and how can he uphold the dharma of the rashtra (the nation),” she asked and asserted that all reports like Modi’s past as a chaiwallah were fake.
She said the BJP was like a home to her. “I am now entering a new home because the Atal era has ended in the BJP and a new culture has grown since then. This is not my pain alone, infinite number of BJP workers suffer this pain,” she said.