The Bharatiya Janata Party has reportedly denied entry to a senior Congress leader and refused his offer to facilitate the defection of nearly a dozen legislators in lieu of the membership.
The decision is said to have been taken particularly at the insistence of BJP’s Tehri Lok Sabha candidate Mala Rajlaxmi Shah and a former chief minister.
Such a move would give a bad impression to the people, a party source quoted Shah as saying.
However, the BJP sources did not reveal the name of the Congress leader.
According to BJP insiders privy to the development, the Congress leader contacted senior BJP functionary Ramlal over phone and expressed his willingness to join the party. He also promised support of 11 MLAs - their sheer number is enough to bring down or form a government in Uttrakhand at present.
Ramlal relayed this to BJP national president Rajnath Singh, who in turn asked Ramlal to mediate the talks by involving the opinion of the state leadership.
Though a few Uttarakhand BJP leaders were not opposed to the idea, they were not happy either, said the source. However, most of the others, including Shah and a former CM, opposed it.
Shah was of the opinion that BJP was not in a position requiring the assistance of a Congress leader to reach out to the masses and that an affirmative decision would lead to the creation of a separate power centre within the state leadership, the source said. Shah and another prominent leader informed the central leadership that the Congress leader could not be accepted as it would disturb the internal dynamics of the party.
Recently, a Congress sitting MP, Satpal Maharaj, has quit the party and joined BJP. Immediately after this development, there were speculations that Maharaj was going to take a few MLAs loyal to him to the BJP in an attempt to pull the plug on the government.
However, both Maharaj and the MLAs regarded close to him had denied this.