NEW DELHI / JAIPUR:Rajasthan BJP MLA Manvendra Singh, the son of former BJP stalwart Jaswant Singh, joined the Congress on Wednesday ahead of the Assembly elections in the state in December.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi welcomed Manvendra Singh into the party fold at his residence in the morning.
It has been a fight for self respect, Manvendra Singh said while addressing the media later in the day in the presence of Rajasthan Congress leaders Ashok Gehlot, Sachin Pilot, Avinash Pande, Jitendra Singh and Randeep Surjewala.“It has been a fight for ‘swabhimaan’ (self-respect). The decision to quit the BJP was not my own but that of our entire ‘Swabhimaan Sena’,” he said, referring to his supporters who have been targeted by BJP and have also quit.
BJP’s Katol MLA in Maharashtra Ashish Deshmukh also joined the Congress on Wednesday. He is the son of Ranjeet Deshmukh, a former president of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee and former Maharashtra minister.
The Congress believes Manvendra Singh will help bring Rajput votes to the party in the December 7 Rajasthan elections. He had campaigned for his father Jaswant Singh, a former Union minister who had contested the 2014 general elections as an independent. Manvendra was suspended from primary membership of the BJP. AICC general secretary Gehlot said only Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, were ruling and BJP leaders were feeling suffocated.
Alleging that there was a sense of fear and intimidation in the “rule of tyranny”, Gehlot said the Modi government’s veil was coming off with exposes on corruption, particularly in the Rafale jet deal.“Today, every person in the country is frightened and there is an atmosphere of distrust and agencies like Income Tax department, ED and CBI are being abused,” Gehlot alleged.
He cited “the way” Jaswant Singh was targeted as part of a “conspiracy” and claimed many people wanted to quit the BJP and join the Congress. “Rahul will have to take a call on them joining or not,” he said.
Rajasthan PCC chief Pilot said, “It is a lesson for the BJP and time for them to introspect. The arrogance in the BJP under Raje has crossed all limits and people are looking at alternatives and tying with the Congress.”