With Lok Sabha elections just round the corner, party-hopping has already begun. Among the firsts is former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s niece Karuna Shukla and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) MP Vijaya Shanthi who joined the Congress on Thursday.
Shanthi, a popular south Indian actor and Lok Sabha MP from Medak, was suspended by TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao from the party in August last year after being accused of resorting to anti-party activities.
The announcement came after her meeting with the Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The move puts a question mark on the possibility of TRS merging with the Congress. The TRS camp saw it as a pressure-building tactic by the Congress, which had claimed that Rao was ready for merger. However, the TRS said no such assurance has been given. Indications from the party suggested that the majority opinion was in favour of alliance rather than merger.
Earlier, Shukla announced her decision to join the Congress with a sharp attack on BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, saying his promise of serving the country is nothing but “plain dishonesty”.
Hitting out at Modi, she said the BJP has declared such a person its PM candidate “who did not fulfil the duty of a husband or rajdharma” as the chief minister. A former MP from Janjgir in Chhattisgarh, Shukla had ended her 32-year-long association with the BJP in October last year.
But the BJP too is trying to hit back and is tapping those Congress MPs who are unsure of their re-nomination.
There is a buzz that Congress MPs Jagdambika Pal and Anu Tandon may soon join the BJP. Pal, Lok Sabha MP from Domariyaganj, has already met the BJP leadership and discussed the modalities. The BJP may consider putting him as its candidate.
Tandon, who represents the Unnao constituency in Lok Sabha, is also said to be in touch with senior BJP leaders.
Venod Sharma, the Congress MLA from Ambala City in Haryana, an industrialist who also owns a news channel and a newspaper, has also met senior BJP leaders and expressed his desire to cross over.