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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Another BJP leader returns to Congress ahead of MP bypolls

In his 70s, Shukla, a leader from Gwalior, was a minister for nearly 13 years when Arjun Singh, Motilal Vora and Digvijaya Singh were chief ministers. Shukla had joined the BJP several years ago.

Written by Milind Ghatwai | Bhopal | Updated: June 6, 2020 6:17:16 am
Shukla is the second leader to return to the Congress from the BJP in recent times. (Twitter/INCMP)

Days after BJP leader and Lok Sabha member Premchand Guddu switched over to the Congress, another member of the saffron party in Madhya Pradesh, Balendu Shukla, defected to the Opposition camp Friday.

The two defections come even as the bypolls for 24 seats that will decide the fate of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government are yet to be announced.

Shukla, who was once close to Madhavrao Scindia, returned to the Congress fold on Friday after many years in the BJP— a development the Opposition party claimed was a setback to the ruling BJP and Jyotiraditya Scindia. He took Congress membership at PCC chief and former CM Kamal Nath’s home in Bhopal.

Nath suggested that Shukla had left the Congress because of differences with Jyotiraditya Scindia and has returned because Scindia has joined the BJP. Guddu — whose stint in BJP lasted less than two years — too had cited Scindia as the reason for his decision to leave the BJP.

Shukla hails from the Gwalior region, where most of the 24 by-elections are due. Now in his 70s, he was a minister for nearly 13 years under then chief ministers Arjun Singh, Motilal Vora and Digvijaya Singh.

There are speculations that the Congress could field Shukla from a seat in Gwalior. The septuagenarian has contested all his previous elections on Congress tickets from seats in and around Gwalior. He once joined the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and contested an election but lost.

Meanwhile, former state Seva Dal president Satyendra Yadav, who had left the Congress with Scindia earlier this year, also returned to the opposition camp. While rejoining the Congress, he claimed that Scindia was feeling “suffocated” in the BJP and could leave the saffron party.

However, former Congress spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi — considered a Scindia confidante — denied Yadav’s claims. He also dispelled rumours that Scindia had changed his Twitter profile —an exercise the former Guna MP had carried out just before switching over to the BJP.

BJP spokesman Lokendra Parashar accused the Congress of spreading misinformation.

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