The Congress candidate in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhind constituency joined the BJP on Sunday, triggering fears of more defections in a party facing a tough election this summer.
Former IAS officer Bhagirath Prasad — named in the Congress’ first list of 194 candidates on Saturday – said he left the Congress after almost five years since there were too many internal divisions in the party. Prasad had lost the 2009 elections from Bhind on a Congress ticket.
Congress leaders in Delhi said it was “rare and unprecedented” for a candidate to quit after being given a ticket. Such defections are usually prompted by denial of ticket or ‘better opportunities in other parties’, they said.
Calling Prasad a traitor, state Congress chief Arun Yadav asked, “What can a party do if a person begging for ticket decides to switch sides after he is granted the ticket?” A BJP state election committee meet on March 12 will decide if Prasad will be given a ticket from Bhind.
With polls less than a month away, this is the latest jolt for the Congress. Former Union minister D Purandeswari joined the BJP on Friday in protest against the party’s decision to create Telangana.
The bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh continues to haunt the party with former AP chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy and several ex-MPs forming a new party.
“These are really bad times for the party,” a Congress leader said on the back-to-back defections.
The party ran into trouble in the electorally crucial state of Uttar Pradesh too with Domariyaganj MP Jagdambika Pal resigning from the Congress on Friday, blaming the new leadership of not respecting seniors.
A day later, Congress leader and leader of opposition in Odisha Bhupinder Singh and MLA Anup Sai joined the ruling Biju Janata Dal.
The Congress is also in trouble in Punjab with MLA Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu and former minister Malkit Singh Birmi switching to the Shiromani Akali Dal on Friday.
As many as five sitting legislators have quit the Congress in Gujarat – home state of BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi -- to join the BJP in the last fortnight.