The BJP has managed a coup of sorts by announcing candidature of Rahul Gandhi's former confidante and IIM post-graduate from a Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh.
The saffron party recently announced that Ranjan Kumar will fight on its ticket for the Mohanlalganj (SC) constituency seat located adjacent to Rae Bareli.
Kumar, who started his political career with the Congress in May 2004 after working abroad, claims to have nursed Amethi and Rae Bareli constituencies for Rahul while being associated with the party.
"I had accompanied my sister Reena Choudhary (a two-term Samajwadi Party MP from Mohanlalganj who was with Congress in 2004) to a programme and met Congress leader Jairam Ramesh there. He asked me to join the party," Kumar told PTI.
Kumar worked with Ramesh and then UP Congress chief Salman Kursheed.
"Later I worked for the team that looked after Rae Bareli and Amethi constituencies," he said.
Kumar, a Pasi by caste, did his post-graduation from IIM-Lucknow. He worked for the Power Grid Corporation and then
for ANZ Bank in Melbourne.
On the reasons for quitting the Rahul brigade, Kumar said, "For five years, Congress did nothing but criticise the Samajwadi Party and then the BSP. And in UP all the focus was on Amethi and Rae Bareli and nothing else."
However, Congress maintained that Kumar's impatience and his rising ambitions led him away from the party.
"One problem with some of these youngsters is that they want many things and very fast. Only those who are ideologically stable, work for the party and wait for their turn," UPCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi told PTI.
Joshi said Kumar wanted to contest the 2007 Assembly polls on a Congress ticket from Bachhrawan constituency in Rae Bareli district. He was denied the ticket.
"Maybe, he felt that since his sister was in Congress, he could carve a place for himself but left when he couldn't. I don't know him well and so can't say much," she said.
Asked if he had not lost an opportunity to grow politically by cashing in on his proximity to Rahul, Ranjan argued that he entered politics to serve people and not for personal gains.
"I have done what I thought is right. I was finding myself helpless in the Congress," Kumar said.
Observers said Kumar joined the BJP as early as October 6, 2008 -- when it promised to field him from Mohanlalganj.
"If elected, I would raise issues of my constituency in Parliament. An MP should be responsive, show transparency and be accountable," he said.