Set­back to Cong as party’s Ch­hat­tis­garh work­ing chief joins BJP ahead of polls

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Front Page - Ritesh Mishra ritesh.mishra@hin­dus­tan­

RAIPUR: Ch­hat­tis­garh Congress work­ing pres­i­dent and tribal leader Ram­dayal Uike joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Satur­day, ac­cus­ing the grand old party of “ne­glect­ing” tribal lead­ers in its fold.

On the same day, Bahu­jan Sa­maj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati and for­mer Ch­hat­tis­garh chief min­is­ter Ajit Jogi launched the poll cam­paign of their al­liance, an­nounced last month, in Bilaspur.

The BSP will con­test 35 seats and Jogi’s Janata Congress 55 seats in the 90-mem­ber as­sem­bly.

Uike, a well-known tribal face of the Congress in the Bilaspur re­gion, said tribal lead­ers were be­ing ne­glected in the Congress. “There is a dif­fer­ence in what they (Congress) say and what they do,” Uike said.

Ch­hat­tis­garh will vote in a two-phase as­sem­bly election in Novem­ber.

The Congress is seek­ing to end the un­in­ter­rupted 15-year rule of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Uike was a BJP MLA from the Mar­wahi seat in 2003, when he joined the Congress and re­signed his seat to make way for Jogi, the first chief min­is­ter of the state. Jogi left the Congress in 2016 to start his own party, the Janata Congress.

“Congress has ne­glected the in­ter­est of trib­als, back­ward and poor peo­ple. Chief Min­is­ter Ra­man Singh has been mak­ing ef­forts for de­vel­op­ment of trib­als and back­ward peo­ple and his de­vel­op­ment poli­cies have im­pressed me and I am re­join­ing the home party,” Uike said, de­scrib­ing his move as “ghar­wapsi” (home­com­ing).

Congress spokesper­son Sailesh Nitin Trivedi said Uike’s join­ing the BJP was no loss for the party which, he added, has may other prom­i­nent tribal lead­ers. “Till yes­ter­day, he was very ac­tive in the Congress which sug­gests that a con­spir­acy took place last night,” he said.

“Uike came back to us be­cause of the in­fight­ing within the Congress. The party is ap­a­thetic to­wards the trib­als and their lead­ers and hence tribal lead­ers are not happy in Congress “Sachhinand Upasane, BJP spokesper­son said.

Polls in Ch­hat­tis­garh will take place in two phases; the 18 as­sem­bly seats in the Maoist af­fected Bas­tar re­gion will go to polls on Novem­ber 12 and the re­main­ing 72 on Novem­ber 20. The count­ing of votes will take place on De­cem­ber 7 to­gether with Ra­jasthan, Mad­hya Pradesh, Mi­zo­ram and Te­lan­gana.

Mean­while, Mayawati ac­cused the BJP of rak­ing up the Ay­o­d­hya Ram tem­ple is­sue for elec­toral gains and claimed that mob-lynch­ing in the name of cow pro­tec­tion was hap­pen­ing in BJP-ruled states. She also ques­tioned why the BJP was not re­spond­ing to re­peated ques­tions on the con­tro­ver­sial Rafale jet fighter deal, but blamed both the Congress and the BJP for ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties that have taken place in de­fence deals.

The BJP and the BJP-led Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance govern­ment have de­nied any wrong­do­ing in the Rafale deal. The party has also dis­as­so­ci­ated it­self from the mob lynch­ings, not­ing that ac­tion has been taken against sus­pects.

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