Senior leaders of the state BJP may have expressed their happiness over the exodus of Congress leaders to the saffron fold, but most party workers have taken the turn of events with a pinch of salt.
According to them, the induction of leaders who for decades represented the Congress, but are now praising the BJP which they criticised all these years, would prove harmful for the party in the long run. “Even at the block level, we refrain from taking someone into the party who has been associated with the Congress for long. One cannot just inculcate the thinking and the ideology of the RSS and BJP into someone by offering him a saffron stole. Our senior leaders are more than happy to induct any Congress leader who is crossing over. This has sent a very wrong signal to the workers. It seems that just like the Congress, we too are promoting opportunistic politics in the party,” a party functionary from Sidhi said.
In the last year, at least five prominent Congress leaders, including an MP, three MLAs and a leader whose name was declared as a Congress party candidate for the 2014 general elections, have defected to the BJP.
BJP insiders said the induction of these leaders was approved by CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who wanted to strike a blow on the morale of the Congress. “It was he who told Bhagirath Prasad (retired IAS officer who was made the Congress nominee from Bhind, but joined the BJP the very next day) to wait till his name has been announced as the Congress candidate before joining the BJP.
“The Bhagirath Prasad episode has caused a huge embarrassment for the Congress,” a party leader said.
Senior Congress leader Satyadev Katare, who was in close touch with Prasad just before he joined the BJP, accepted that the sudden exodus of Prasad did upset him. “I did not expect this from him. Just two days before that incident, he came to me and with all sincerity and requested me to seek a ticket for him. This kind of back stabbing will hurt any individual”, he said.
Even though BJP MLAs have so far refused to comment publicly on the decision to open the party’s gates to Congress leaders, they have privately accepted that it will not be easy to accept someone who has just hopped over. Apart from Chouhan, state party president Narendra Singh Tomar and general secretary Arvind Menon, are two other leaders who decide and approve the induction of Congress leaders.
“I have been in MP politics for more than 20 years now and never have I seen so many defectors inthe party. Doesn’t the state leadership have trust in its existing cadre? Congress leaders are joining the BJP because of the Modi wave . While promoting opportunists Chouhan is neglecting the worker who has toiled all these years,” a BJP MLA from Bhopal said.