In a setback for the Congress in Chhattisgarh ahead of the Assembly elections, Ram Dayal Uike, the party MLA from Pali Tanakhar and an adivasi leader who was appointed the party’s state unit working president in January this year, joined the BJP on Saturday. Welcomed into the party by BJP president Amit Shah and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, Uike said there is a difference between what the Congress “said and (what it) does”.
Slamming state Congress president Bhupesh Baghel, he said it was impossible to continue working under his leadership.
Uike was appointed the state unit working president alongside Baghel and Shiv Dahariya, and was a prominent adivasi face for the Congress, especially in north Chhattisgarh. An outspoken leader, he had courted controversy in April this year when he said at a rally that even “sticks and bullets” should be used to “chase away BJP from the state.”
Uike, who had won his seat (reserved for SCs) by over 28,000 votes in 2013, relegating BJP to third place, told the media in Bilaspur on Saturday that the Congress does not care about tribal people and blamed Baghel primarily for his exit from the Congress. He said Baghel was using “tactics” like the sex CD scandal and did not include him in any decision-making processes.
Uike, who was BJP MLA from Marwahi in 1998, had joined the Congress in 2000 after Chhattisgarh was carved out as a state. On Saturday, he called his return to the BJP “ghar wapsi.”
Congress Leader of Opposition in Assembly T S Singhdeo said, “It is surprising he felt the need to take this step (join BJP) — he was always given posts and importance…. he had said himself that he was a chief ministerial candidate of the party some months ago, and no one had rebuffed him for that.”
Meanwhile, Ruchir Garg, a senior and respected journalist, and until October 3 the editor of Hindi daily Navbharat, met Rahul Gandhi and joined the Congress on Saturday.