C’garh Cong work­ing prez re­joins BJP

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES NATION -

Raipur: In a ma­jor blow to the Congress in Ch­hat­tis­garh, barely six weeks be­fore assem­bly elec­tions, its work­ing pres­i­dent Ram­dayal Uikey re­turned to BJP in the pres­ence of its na­tional pres­i­dent Amit Shah and CM Ra­man Singh in Bi­laspur. Uikey, who had switched from BJP to Congress in 2000, called it “ghar wapsi”.

Uikey is not only a prom­i­nent tribal leader but was the only party MLA to strike a hat­trick — beat­ing Hira Singh Markam of Gond­wana Gan­tantra Party in Pali-Tanakhar con­stituency in 2003, 2008 and 2013. BJP, all this while, was pushed to third po­si­tion at Pal­iTanakhar. When Uikey had Ram­dayal Uikey quit BJP in 2000, lead­ers were livid and some se­nior party work­ers had said that those who switched to other par­ties will never be taken back. But con­sid­er­ing the likely tight con­test in this poll, BJP not only ac­cepted Uikey but has also re­port­edly of­fered him a “pow­er­ful po­si­tion” if the party re­turns to power.

Uikey told re­porters, “I felt suf­fo­cated in Congress due to so much of [sex] CD pol­i­tics and in­fight­ing among lead­ers. Congress is not a strong party any more. An­other rea­son for my come­back is that I wasn’t val­ued and was never given a pow­er­ful stand in party. This isn’t me join­ing BJP but it’s my ghar wapsi to my party.”

Uikey added that a party that “doesn’t re­spect its tribal leader and ne­glects them” will have to face such shifts. He said he was hurt when Congress lead­ers “avoided him” dur­ing sig­nif­i­cant de­ci­sion-mak­ing meet­ings. “There is a dif­fer­ence in what they (Congress) say and what they do,” he said.

Congress, mean­while, coun­tered the shift with a brave face. Leader of Op­po­si­tion T S Singhdeo said: “Uikey’s deci- sion to re­join BJP came as a sur­prise be­cause there was no spe­cific rea­son for it — Congress had ex­tended all sup­port, re­spect and po­si­tion to him. Now that Uikey has joined BJP, Congress doesn’t lack in rep­re­sen­ta­tion and more de­serv­ing can­di­dates will get a chance.”

In­ter­est­ingly, af­ter the for­ma­tion of Ch­hat­tis­garh in 2000, it was Uikey who left his seat, Mar­wahi, for Ajit Jogi to con­test. Jogi won and be­came the state’s first CM. Uikey moved to Pali-Tanakhar where he has had an un­bro­ken run for three terms. How­ever, this time, Jogi will field a Janata Congress Party can­di­date, in al­liance with BSP, in Pali-Tanakhar, mak­ing it a four-way fight.

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