Indian Express

Cong ship rocks as heavyweights jump to Oppn camp

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Satpal Maharaj quit the Congress to join the BJP, claiming the country needed a strong leadership.(Express archive) Satpal Maharaj quit the Congress to join the BJP, claiming the country needed a strong leadership.(Express archive)

At a time when the Congress is facing a tough electoral battle, the exodus of political heavyweights from the party has continued, with Garhwal MP Satpal Maharaj and former minister Buta Singh being the latest to quit the party.

In a serious setback to the party in Uttarakhand, Satpal Maharaj quit the Congress to join the BJP, claiming the country needed a strong leadership and rooting for BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi. Maharaj is a spiritual leader with a considerable following and his wife is a cabinet minister in the Congress government in Uttarakhand.

Senior Congress leader Buta Singh also announced he would contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections on a Samajwadi Party ticket from Jalore in Rajasthan.

Singh has had a long association with the Congress, serving as the agriculture minister in the Rajiv Gandhi cabinet between 1984 and 1986 and home minister between 1986 and 1989. He was elected to the Lok Sabha eight times between 1962 and 2004.

These two leaders have added to an already long list of those who have deserted the Congress in the poll season. While some left the Congress in search of greener pastures, some others quit citing grievances. Two-term former Congress MP from Barmer Col. Sona Ram Choudhary, who quit the Congress recently, was given a BJP ticket from Barmer on Friday, a seat senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh was keen on. The trend in Congress this poll season may well have begun last November when Hoshangabad MP Rao Uday Pratap Singh quit the party and joined the BJP along with some supporters, claiming he was feeling “suffocated” in the Congress.

Gurgaon MP Rao Inderjit Singh quit the Congress to join the BJP last month. The three-time MP will contest from Gurgaon on a BJP ticket, a setback to the Congress, particularly in the Ahir-dominated constituencies of southern Haryana.

In another jolt to the Congress earlier this month, former minister Venod Sharma quit the party to join Kuldeep Bishnoi-led Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC).

Yet another political veteran, Jagdambika Pal, resigned from Congress earlier this month and joined the BJP. Pal, who represents Domariyaganj in Uttar Pradesh, said he was leaving the party because he felt “humiliated” and was unable to communicate his views to the emerging Congress leadership. Pal is famously remembered as the ‘three-day’ Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

In what appeared to be a fallout of the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, D Purandeshwari, former union minister of state and MP from Vishakapatnam, also quit earlier this month to join the BJP. She had resigned from the government and from the party’s primary membership after Parliament cleared the Telangana Bill.

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