Lucknow: In what might come as a setback to the Congress party in Amethi, Anant Vikram, the estranged son of Congress Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Sinh on Thursday announced his decision to join the saffron ranks. Anant, 37, will officially join the BJP on December 21, when he will take the primary membership of the party in the presence of BJP state president Laxmikant Bajpayi and Lucknow mayor Dinesh Sharma.
The move to join the BJP follow a series of meeting the Amethi scion has had with Union HRD minister Smriti Irani and BJP organisation secretary Sunil Bansal, who have both welcomed Sinh junior into the saffron fold. Speaking to TOI, Anant Vikram, said, "My decision to join the BJP follows prolonged deliberations over the issue. I have found that the BJP is far more proactive party at the grassroots than any other. This is the reason why I approached the BJP leadership and decided to become its member."
Though it remains uncertain whether Anant Vikram, as yet a political novice, will be given an official position in the party, he may serve as a tool to weaken the Congress's position in the Gandhi's stronghold.
When contacted, a senior Congress functionary in Amethi said Anant Vikram's joining the BJP could not be viewed as a loss to the Congress because the Amethi 'rajkumar' was only just making his political debut. "With the BJP government in power, he has probably seen a political opportunity in associating with the party. This is a personal decision that is unlikely to impact the Congress's fortunes," he said.
Incidentally, Sanjay himself had joined BJP between 1998 and 2003. In 1998, he defeated Congress leader Satish Sharma in Amethi. In 1999, however, he lost to Sonia Gandhi contesting her first Lok Sabha election from Amethi. He kept a low profile till 2003, when he rejoined Congress. The party later fielded him from Sultanpur in the 2009 Lok Sabha electionm which he won, again. Early this year, he was sent to Rajya Sabha from Assam.
Sanjay and Anant have been in news recently for their tussle over the family properties in Amethi and the palace, Bhupathi Bhawan. Both sides even lodged FIR against each other. The split between the father and son now assuming political colour could also weaken the Congress in Amethi, from where party vice president Rahul Gandhi is an elected representative.
The Congress party has, traditionally, relied on Sanjay Sinh' clout as 'Raja' of the Amethi estate to strengthen its stranglehold over the constituency. Sinh's first wife and Anant Vikram's mother, Garima, however, has now moved back to the family's Amethi palace. Despite the estrangement with Sanjay Sinh, Garima enjoys considerable support from the people of Amethi, a support base that is now expected to shift to Anant Vikram as he joins the BJP.
Add to this, the Congress has already been weakened considerably following the arrival of Smriti Irani on Amethi's political turf. In the bitterly contested Lok Sabha elections earlier this year, Rahul Gandhi's victory margin stood drastically reduced - by nearly a third - to 1.07 lakh votes.