In a major embarrassment for the Congress party, its candidate from Bhind constituency, Bhagirath Prasad joined Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday, a day after his name was officially declared.
Prasad had unsuccessfully contested the last Lok Sabha elections on the party ticket from the same seat.
The development came as a personal humiliation for PCC chief Satyadev Katare, who, having heard rumours, took assurance from Prasad on Saturday before the central election committee declared the first list of 194 candidates. “These are only rumours I will remain with the Congress,” Katare was told by Prasad, a former IAS officer who lost the 2009 election on the Congress ticket to Ashok Argal, one of the MPs who had flashed wads of cash in the Lok Sabha during a trust vote.
The former bureaucrat alleged the Congress suffered from factionalism and was not able to “utilize my experience and talent.” He said he hoped the BJP would harness his abilities but insisted “I was never after money and ambitious for post.”
He took premature retirement in 2007 and served as vice-chancellor of Indore’s Devi Ahilya University for two years before taking a plunge in politics. He said after spending five years in the Congress he realized the party lacked vision and capacity.
“I was always impressed with Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s style of functioning. With Narendra Modi as the future prime minister I understand the BJP has lots to offer,’’ said Prasad while refuting the charge that he was an opportunist.
The Congress labeled him a traitor and a liar who switched loyalties for money and Lok Sabha ticket.
The BJP did not confirm or deny whether Prasad would be its official candidate but proved one more time that it could easily outsmart the opposition party at crucial junctures.
In August 2013, it scuttled a no trust motion the Congress was about to move against the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in the assembly. Just when then Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh began to read the motion his deputy Chaudhary Rakesh Singh Chaturvedi defected to the ruling party on the floor of the assembly.
Ahead of the assembly elections, Congress MP from Hoshangabad Rao Uday Pratap Singh resigned and joined the BJP along with many supporters in November. While leaving he leveled serious allegations against senior Congress leader and former union minister Suresh Pachauri.