Updated: October 12, 2021 2:36:48 am
In a setback to the ruling BJP in Uttarakhand ahead of the Assembly polls, state minister Yashpal Arya on Monday quit the party and joined the Congress along with his MLA son Sanjeev Arya.
A six-time MLA and prominent Dalit leader, Arya was the Transport Minister in the Pushkar Singh Dhami government.
A calculated move
Yashpal Arya’s return to Congress after nearly five years in BJP may be an indication of unease in the ruling party over the farmers’ agitation, and its possible impact on the elections. Arya represents Bajpur, which has 85 per cent farmer population, a large section among them Sikhs. Sources said Yashpal as a minister had to face protests of farmers on a few occasions and had been wary of contesting on a BJP ticket. Joining the Congress may also help him garner support of the 8 per cent Muslim population in the constituency.
A former president of the Uttarakhand Congress, he had quit the party and joined the BJP ahead of 2017 elections as he was said to be upset with the style of functioning of then chief minister Harish Rawat. The real reason perhaps was Congress’s reluctance to field his son in the elections.
The BJP fielded his son in Nainital seat from where he won.
Sources said Arya was upset with the elevation of Dhami as the CM. The BJP had tried to placate him. In fact, Dhami himself went to his residence for a meeting on September 25 to placate him.
Welcoming Arya to the party, AICC general secretary in charge of organisation K C Venugopal said his “homecoming” shows the “wind is now blowing” in favour of Congress in Uttarakhand. Arya and his son met senior party leader Rahul Gandhi Monday before formally joining of the party.
Addressing the press conference along with Venugopal, Rawat said more senior politicians would join the Congress soon.
Arya said it was a “homecoming” for him. “Congress has a history of sacrifice, a legacy that we are proud to carry forward. Democracy in the country can be strengthened only if the Congress is strengthened,” he said.
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