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Birender to announce decision on joining BJP in Aug 16 rally

chandigarh Updated: Aug 11, 2014 19:53 IST
Birender Singh

Senior Congress leader Birender Singh, who is set to part ways with the party to join rival party, on Monday said he will announce his next step at the rally scheduled in his hometown Jind on August 16, to which BJP chief Amit Shah has also been invited.

Singh had met Shah in Delhi last month fuelling speculations that he may switch over to the saffron camp.

The veteran leader and Rajya Sabha MP, who has openly revolted against chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and was removed from the party's working committee last month, however, said that he has so far not quit the Congress.

"I have so far not quit Congress or joined BJP. I have said that I will make an announcement on my next step at the function to be held at Jind," Singh said.

The Jind rally is being organised by Yuva Shakti, a youth organisation started by the supporters of Singh.

He said that there were some leaders in the Congress camp, including former Union Minister Kumari Selja, who felt that the party would reach out to him.

"I have clearly said that stage has crossed. That stage is over now. I am now focusing on the rally," he said.

Singh quitting the party would be another jolt to Congress in Haryana which faced a series of desertions in the election year. Polls are due in October in the state.

Hitting out at Hooda, Singh said, "Congress in Haryana is no longer the party it used to be. It has now become Hooda's Congress."

He alleged that Hooda had centralised powers and it was one of the reason why the Congress had fared poor in the Lok Sabha polls. Congress managed to win only one seat out of total ten LS seats in the state.

"I had demanded that Hooda should be changed so that Congress's prospects in the polls could improve, but that did not happen... now I am not going to contest future election on Congress symbol," he said.

Meanwhile, even as Birender is yet to bid adieu to Congress, big advertisement hoardings and posters have been erected at Uchana town in Jind district, in which he is seen sharing space with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.

A prominent leader from Haryana's Banger area, he has over the past one year openly criticised Hooda from several platforms for alleged lopsided development.
Speculations are also rife that after joining the BJP,

Singh may take on his cousin Hooda, from Kiloi, the assembly constituency represented by the chief minister.

Notably, chief minister Hooda had recently expressed desire to contest the forthcoming assembly polls from Indri constituency in Karnal district.

Birender Singh, a former Haryana minister, lost the 2009 Assembly polls to former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala from Uchana Kalan segment.

Earlier, Singh, who has openly revolted against Hooda and refused to contest the October Assembly polls under his leadership, had charged him with weakening the Congress.

Hooda, who was recently asked to comment on the possibility of Singh dumping the Congress, had said that in a democratic set up, every leader has right to join any party.

The chief minister had said that Birender Singh also has right to join any party and this would not affect Congress in any manner.

In the election year, the Haryana Congress unit has been facing an exodus of leaders, some of whom have joined the BJP camp, since the last Lok Sabha polls. Prominent Congress leaders who have switched over to the saffron party include Rao Inderjit Singh, who had also been vocal against Hooda.

Rao, who was then a Congress MP from Gurgaon, severed his four-decade old ties with Congress and contested as BJP nominee from Gurgaon and retained his seat. He is now a minister in the Narendra Modi government.

Senior leader from Bhiwani region Dharambir also switched over to BJP and is now a MP from Bhiwani-Mahendergarh seat.

Former Union minister Venod Sharma too ended his four- decade old ties with the Congress to float his own Jan Chetna Party.

Another turncoat, Ramesh Kaushik, won the Sonepat Lok Sabha constituency on a BJP ticket after quitting the Congress. Last week, four-time Congress MP Avtar Singh Bhadana also quit the party.

According to Birender Singh, Congress would face more desertions in the coming weeks.