Rita Bahugana Joshi quitting the Congress and joining the BJP on Thursday was an event keenly watched by political observers. While the Congress says that it is not a big loss, the BJP hopes to send a strong message to its upper caste voters in Uttar Pradesh.
Those who are watching developments in Uttar Pradesh closely, say that she had been pushed to a position of irrelevance in the Congress and this was one of the main reasons why she decided to quit.
The question now is how does the BJP gain? In Rita Bahugana's exit, the BJP will send a strong message to the Brahmin voters in Uttar Pradesh. While observers say that the message may not be too loud, there is a perception that is created which is likely to act in favour of the BJP.
Joshi's exit from the Congress sends out a message that all is not well in the party.
Further it also sends out a message since matters are bad within the Congress, senior leaders are quitting to join the BJP to have a longer political inning. It is more about perception as far as this issue is concerned, say the political observers.
The Congress, however, does not seem to be too worried. The party says that she was in charge of Uttar Pradesh during the previous elections and the party fared badly. Congress had to bring in Sheila Dixit from Delhi to send a message to the Brahmin voters. This itself is an indicator that they were ready to risk sidelining Joshi in UP.
For Joshi, the task ahead was a tough one. She had won the Lucknow Cantonment seat in 2012. However, this time around she is up against Aparna Yadav, daughter-in-law of Samajwadi Party supremo, Mulayam Singh Yadav.
For her to win this seat this time is extremely crucial as her political future would depend on it. Observers feel that had she stayed back in the Congress, it would have been tough for her to win this seat. "By joining BJP there is a better chance for her to retain this seat," observers also feel.
Joshi's exit does convey a message that all is not well in the Congress and BJP will hope that more would join her. However, as pointed out earlier by the observers, Joshi's presence in the party would be more about perception and the voters thinking that the Congress is on a shaky ground.
Congress, on the other hand, maintains that it is not a big loss. Her relationship with Prashant Kishor, the party poll strategist, was uncomfortable. She felt that the old guard was being ignored.
Congress also feels that it needs to make room for younger leaders with more energy. It may be a psychological blow for the Congress and a victory for the BJP but the difference that Joshi will make in the UP elections, is something that only time will tell.