Two Uttarakhand Congress leaders, including a state cabinet minister, joined BJP on Monday dealing a blow to the faction-ridden ruling party barely a month ahead of assembly elections.
Irrigation minister Yashpal Arya and former Yamnotri MLA Kedar Rawat joined the BJP in New Delhi on the day Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi addressed party workers in Rishikesh to galvanise them for the February 15 elections.
Arya, who is also party’s Dalit face in the state, switched over to the BJP along with his son Sanjeev. The legislator from the Bajpur (SC) reserved seat was reportedly angry with the party for not giving ticket to his son to contest Nainital (SC) reserved seat, presently represented by Congress MLA Sarita Arya.
It is unclear whether BJP will give tickets to both the father and son duo, but they are likely to get at least one ticket from their choice of seats.
“Congress is not the same party which I knew, it has drifted from its principles” Yashpal Arya said soon after joining the BJP in presence of party’s state in-charge Shyam Jaju and other leaders from Uttarakhand.
Reacting to the development, the Congress termed him “a turncoat and a backstabber.”
“Congress gave identity, position and respect to Arya. Such leaders never become loyal to anyone” Congress spokesperson Mathura Dutt Joshi said.
BJP vice president Kedar Joshi welcomed Arya’s entry into the party saying it would strengthen the party.
Arya is the 11th Congress legislator to leave the party in less than a year time after nine party legislators raised the flag of rebellion under former CM Vijay Bahuguna and Harak Singh in March last year. Another legislator Rekha Arya had also earlier left the party.
It was Satpal Maharaj, a former union minister, who first quit the Congress in 2014 soon after Harish Rawat took reins of the state as chief minister from Bahuguna.