C’garh Cong working prez rejoins BJP
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.