Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya's switching to BJP, a jolt to Congress in Rajasthan | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya's switching to BJP, a jolt to Congress in Rajasthan’s tribal belt

Feb 21, 2024 06:26 PM IST

Congress claims the saffron party is trying to create a perception that the Congress is weak before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections

Weeks before the Lok Sabha polls, Congress Working Committee member Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya’s joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has come as a jolt to Congress and created a vacuum in the tribal-dominated Dungarpur-Banswara (Vagad) region in southeastern Rajasthan.

Jaipur, Feb 19 (ANI): Congress leader Mahendrajeet Malviya joins Bharatiya Janata Party in the presence of party's state in-charge Arun Singh and the president of party's state unit, CP Joshi, in Jaipur on Monday. (ANI Photo) (Bhajanlal Sharma-X) PREMIUM
Jaipur, Feb 19 (ANI): Congress leader Mahendrajeet Malviya joins Bharatiya Janata Party in the presence of party's state in-charge Arun Singh and the president of party's state unit, CP Joshi, in Jaipur on Monday. (ANI Photo) (Bhajanlal Sharma-X)

While political experts believe that for the BJP, Malviya’s entry will boost its prospects in the tribal regions of Banswara and Dungarpur. The Congress leaders admit that the party will have to find a new leader in the tribal belt, where the Bharatiya Adivasi Party (BAP) had made inroads in the recently concluded assembly polls. Malviya was the front-runner for the Dungarpur-Banswara Lok Sabha seat, and now the Congress will need to look for another strong tribal leader to counter Malviya.

Four-time MLA from Bagidora, Malviya, a CWC member, is among the most prominent tribal leaders in Rajasthan. He has vast political experience having contested polls from sarpanch and district panchayat to state assembly and the Lok Sabha. Malviya, who began his career in student politics with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), joined the Congress.

As he joined the BJP on Monday at the state party office, Malviya said that his decision was because he saw no other alternative to the party, and highlighted the significance of the double-engine government for development. He also raised the demand to make the Mangadh Dham, a tribal pilgrimage place, a national monument. Mangadh Dham is a tribal memorial in Banswara in memory of hundreds of tribals who were massacred by the British in 1913 after a revolt.

BJP leaders aware of the development claim that Malviya’s entry into the party is a strategic move to bolster their presence in tribal areas. In the nine assembly segments in Banswara and Dungarpur, the BJP won only two seats while the Congress won five and the Bharatiya Adivasi Party (BAP) won two in the December assembly election. Malviya is likely to be the BJP Lok Sabha candidate for the seat.

Malviya also aired his unhappiness with the Congress saying the party “does not have any long-term vision.” Congress leaders said that Malviya’s disenchantment with the Congress was a matter of speculation for the past several months. When the BJP came to power, he expected to be made the leader of the opposition. However, that post went to Dalit leader Tikaram Jully from Alwar. Malviya was also unhappy with not getting any prominent position in the Rajasthan Congress government led by chief minister Ashok Gehlot.

While lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Malviya said he was hurt by the Congress’s “boycott” of the Ram Mandir pratishthan.

“I am a follower of Sanatana Dharma. I worship gods and goddesses,” he said.

Commenting on Malviya’s switching, Congress president Govind Singh Dotsara said, “I want to say that there will be no impact of such people leaving the party. The party will further strengthen because last time (2013) in assembly polls, he won and the rest all lost, then there were complaints that he worked against other (party) candidates. He gave clarification and assured me that won’t do it again.” He added that similar complaints were received in the assembly polls.

“His conduct has been suspicious for years but the party considered him thinking that he is a tribal leader and working for the party. But this time, he realised that there was no place for him in the Congress, wouldn’t get any ticket as a Member of Parliament and seeing no future in Congress he chose to join BJP.”

Dotasara said, “I believe there will be no loss to the party if a person of such conduct leaves the party; rather the party will get strengthened and new leadership will come up.” By making Congress people join BJP, the saffron party is trying to create a perception in the country that Congress is weak and people should vote for BJP.

“He was even made a CWC member. He had said that Congress is his mother and he will never leave the party. But today he has joined BJP which shows his mass support is weakening and he is trying to regain,” he said.

Political commentator Manish Godha said, “For BJP, Malviya’s entry will boost its prospects in the tribal region of Banswara and Dungarpur. The party failed to perform up to the mark in the assembly election in the region.”

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