Hun­dreds of AAP lead­ers, work­ers join Cong

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE -

and help it de­feat the BJP in the up­com­ing elec­tions.

The AAP lead­ers who switched sides to join the Congress in­clude four who had un­suc­cess­fully con­tested the 2014 Lok Sabha elec­tions on the AAP sym­bol.

They in­clude Ri­tu­raj Me­hta, who had con­tested from Gand­hi­na­gar seat, Ankur Dhamelia, who had fought from Ra­jkot, Van­dana Pa­tel, then AAP can­di­date from Mehsana, and Lab­hub­hai Bardi­wala, who had con­tested from Kheda.

They at­trib­uted the deci- sion to quit AAP and to join the Congress to the for­mer’s in­de­ci­sion re­gard­ing fight­ing the Gu­jarat elec­tions.

“For sev­eral months, there was no clar­ity on whether AAP will con­test the Gu­jarat elec­tions or not. The party re­cently an­nounced that it will, and it has also de­clared can­di­dates from some seats. How­ever, we feel that AAP work­ers are de­mo­ti­vated and that the party is ill-pre­pared to con­test. In such a sce­nario, AAP will only end up ben­e­fit­ing the BJP, which is why we have de­cided to join Congress,” Ankur Dhamelia said.

Ri­tu­raj Me­hta, who is a de­vel­oper by pro­fes­sion, and had con­tested the 2014 polls against BJP stal­wart LK Ad­vani, said that peo­ple of Gu­jarat are look­ing for a change.

“We have joined the Congress with­out any ex­pec­ta­tions. Our sole aim is to en­sure that the BJP is de­feated this elec­tion,” Me­hta said.

With Congress vice-pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi try­ing to turn the heat on Modi gov­ern­ment on the is­sues of de­mon­eti­sa­tion and GST in the run-up to the As­sem­bly elec­tions in Gu­jarat and Hi­machal, the BJP on Mon­day hit back say­ing Congress’ du­plic­ity on GST reeks of hypocrisy and dou­ble­s­peak.

“A party (Congress) that had claimed GST as their brain­child is op­por­tunis­tic in tac­ti­cally dis­tanc­ing it­self from it. It is per­pe­trat­ing a fraud on the peo­ple of the coun­try. The gov­ern­ments in Congress-ruled states were party to every sin­gle de­ci­sion taken in the GST coun­cil; but the party is now claim­ing to have a dif­fer­ent view out­side at the po­lit­i­cal level,” BJP spokesper­son GVL Nar­simha Rao told re­porters here.

De­fend­ing de­mon­eti­sa­tion, Rao blamed the Congress for not lik­ing the de­ci­sion as cor­rupt poli­cies it pur­sued in power would di­rectly mil­i­tate against the trans­par­ent eco­nomic regime.

“A shady par­al­lel econ­omy mired in opaque­ness was a legacy that Congress party per­pet­u­ated as a part of its eco­nomic pol­icy con­struc­tion. For such a party a clean econ­omy where tax com­pli­ance is a norm is an anath­ema,” he added.

Aware that the Congress will keep on ham­mer­ing on the twin is­sues of note ban and GST in the trad­ing com­mu­nity dom­i­nated Gu­jarat be­fore the polls, the BJP has de­cided to hit back by rais­ing the spec­tre of cor­rup­tion dur­ing the Congress rule and bring in the role of Congress-ruled states in shap­ing up the GST.

“Every word of wis­dom they now speak out­side, why didn’t they say the same in the GST Coun­cil. Does Rahul Gandhi-led Congress has no con­trol over the state gov­ern­ments that his party pre­sides over,” asked Rao adding that pol­i­tics of lies can­not take Rahul far and “we will ex­pose his lies on all pub­lic plat­forms”.

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