When Congress MLA Rekha Arya walked to the Uttarakhand Assembly accompanied by state BJP chief Ajay Bhatt Tuesday, it was pretty evident which side she would vote for. She walked in smiling, making a victory sign that seems a bit premature now. Congress leaders had been trying to reach Arya for the last few days, and her grand entry only confirmed their worst fears.
This, however, is not the first time Arya has switched sides. She had quit the Congress in 2012 when she was denied a ticket for Assembly elections from Someshwar. She fought as an Independent, losing to BJP’s Ajay Tamta. A year later, she joined the BJP under the leadership of senior leader and former CM Bhagat Singh Koshyari, and was keen for a Lok Sabha ticket from Almora. The BJP, however, chose Tamta, who won and vacated the Someshwar seat.
Overlooked for the ticket, Arya quit the BJP and returned to Congress in 2014, and went on to become a first-time MLA from Someshwar, winning the by-elections.
Bhim Lal Arya
A first-time MLA from Ghansali, a reserved constituency in Tehri, Bhim Lal Arya had invited disciplinary action from his party, the BJP, about six months ago. “He had been indulging in anti-party activities and calling our leaders names. That’s why we had suspended him,” said BJP’s Uttarakhand chief Ajay Bhatt, adding “Harish Rawat has been using him as a shield…for over two years”.
Arya was known to have praised Rawat publicly, and in the House, inviting his party’s censure. Days before the floor test, the BJP had tried to get in touch with him, but alleged that the Congress was not letting him speak to anyone. “He is in the kabza (grip) of Harish Rawat. They flew him to Corbett National Park. There are always two persons guarding him even when he goes to the restroom,” a BJP leader had said.
Unlike Rekha’s dramatic entry, Bhim Lal Tuesday came alone for the floor test, but before the arrival of BJP MLAs.