Senior Congress leader from Uttarakhand, Satpal Maharaj, quit the party and joined Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday, with less than a month to go for the general elections.
Satpal Maharaj (HT Photo)
The announcement to join BJP was done by party president Rajnath Singh at a press conference in New Delhi.
The senior leader, who is a sitting member of parliament from the Pauri Lok Sabha constituency in Uttarakhand, has been sulking for some time after he was sidelined.
Maharaj, who represents the Pauri Garhwal constituency in the Lok Sabha, had last week announced that he will not contest the Lok Sabha polls. He cited the neglect of party workers as the reason behind his decision to quit the Congress.
Maharaj has a massive following in the hill state and elsewhere because of his religious sermons, and was angry at being sidestepped and Harish Rawat being appointed the chief minister.
But he decided to quit after his choice of candidates in the Garhwal region was not agreed to by the Congress high command.
Earlier, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Jagdambika Pal had quit the Congress to join the BJP on Wednesday.
Chief minister Harish Rawat had met him recently to pacify him, but with little success.
His wife Amrita Rawat is a Congress legislator. The fate of the Congress government in the hill state is also likely to be challenged by Satpal Maharaj's exit as 10 legislators are from his camp, sources said.