Chhattisgarh Congress chief joins BJP
Ramdayal Uike had quit the BJP and joined the Congress in 2000.
With state elections just a month away, the Opposition Congress suffered a jolt in Chhattisgarh as its state working president and four-time lawmaker, Ramdayal Uike joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday.
Uike, considered as a popular tribal leader in the state, was inducted into the BJP by party chief Amit Shah in the presence of Chief Minister Raman Singh, in Bilaspur. Senior BJP leaders termed Uike’s joining the party as “Ghar Wapsi”. Uike had quit the BJP and joined the Congress in 2000.
Sources confirmed that Uike was unhappy with Congress’ ticket distribution committee (screening committee). The screening committee is likely to disclose the list of names of those who have been given party candidature to contest the Assembly elections in the state next week.
A source close to Uike told The Sunday Guardian: “Uike was upset after he was removed from the Congress screening committee, headed by Rahul Gandhi, formed to take decisions on the Assembly elections’ ticket distribution in the state and since then, he had been in constant touch with the BJP’s top leaders.” Speaking to the media, Uike said he was feeling suffocated and sidelined in the Congress as Scheduled Tribes (ST) leaders were being neglected by the party leadership. “I had been feeling suffocated in Congress for the last several years. Congress has deviated from its ideology and principles. The CD politics of Congress has tarnished its image. State Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel has maligned the image of the party by encouraging the obscene CD politics,” Uike said. Uike is an MLA from Pali Tanakhar in Korba district, a reserved seat which the Gondwana Gan- tantra Party (GGP) has been demanding. Rahul Gandhi has said yes to GGP’s demand and had asked state Congress to accommodate Uike from some other seat. Uike is likely to contest from the same seat on a BJP ticket.
The Congress had already suffered a setback in the state last month when the state party chief Bhupesh Baghel was named in a sex CD controversy as one of the five accused and was sent to jail. Baghel is now on bail. Speaking to this reporter on the issue, Congress spokesperson Shailesh Nitin Trivedi said: “Uike has been an opportunist; he had left the BJP earlier for an opportunistic reason and he has proved it again that he is an opportunistic politician. His leaving the Congress will not at all hurt the party’s poll prospects in Chhattisgarh.”
“Uike was given due respect and posts in the party and his allegations that the Congress is sidelining ST leaders in the state is baseless. The reasons for him leaving the Congress are best known to him and the people of Chhattisgarh,” Trivedi added.
According to political observers, Uike’s departure has once again revealed that the Congress has failed to resolve infighting in Chhattisgarh. Also, the party has lost a good opportunity that it could have gained by weaving an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
Leaving the Congress in a lurch, Mayawati of BSP last month forged an alliance with Ajit Jogi’s Janata Congress Chhattisgarh ( J) for the upcoming elections.
In all, 18 of the 90 Assembly constituencies in Chhattisgarh will vote on 12 November, including the Naxal-affected Bastar and Rajnandgaon districts. The second phase of polling is on 20 November. Results will be out on 11 December.
BJP president Amit Shah welcomes Ramdayal Uike into the party in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, on Saturday.