Dalit leader Udit Raj, who was denied a ticket to contest from the North West Delhi Lok Sabha seat by BJP, on Wednesday joined the Congress in the presence of party chief Rahul Gandhi. “Congress President Rahul Gandhi welcomes Shri Udit Raj into the Congress party,” the party announced on Twitter.
“The BJP’s refusal to grant me a ticket shows that they are anti-Dalits. I was the most popular BJP MP in Delhi,” Raj later told reporters in the national capital.
— Dr. Udit Raj, MP (@Dr_Uditraj) April 24, 2019
The Dalit leader failed to get a ticket from the reserved constituency after his party picked singer Hans Raj Hans instead. He had earlier threatened to quit the party if he was denied a ticket and said he would seek reelection as an independent candidate. “I am waiting for ticket if not given to me, I will do goodbye to party,” he had said in a tweet.
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Raj, founder of the pro-Dalit Indian Justice Party, had joined the BJP in 2014.
After he was refused a ticket from the saffron party, Raj had claimed that he cannot help Dalits and the poor if he is not in a position of power. “I am not sure. Have I been denied it for supporting Dalit protests against (dilution of) SC/ST Act, holding a rally against sealing, supporting equal rights for women in Sabarimala or being the second-best MP in India in terms of performance?” he had told The Indian Express.
The former BJP leader often held views contrary to the party’s stand, especially during the Sabarimala issue and the Bharat Bandh called by Dalit organisations last year, party sources said. “He had joined the party but he was never ours… he was hoping for a ticket from the BJP so he gets votes in Modi’s name… At the same time, he kept giving statements against the party’s official line,” a senior BJP leader had said.