Congress MLA Rajkumar joins BJP in Uttarakhand

The Purola MLA was welcomed at the saffron party's New Delhi office in the presence of Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami

The BJP in poll-bound Uttarakhand received a shot in its arm when a sitting MLA from the Congress joined the ruling party at its national headquarters in New Delhi Sunday.

Congress MLA Rajkumar, elected from Purola in Uttarkashi district, was welcomed at the party office in the presence of Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, BJP state unit chief Madan Kaushik and BJP national media head and Rajya Sabha MP Anil Baluni. Independent MLA Pritam Singh Panwar had joined the BJP four days ago.

Rajkumar had been with the BJP from 2007 to 2012, but quit the party and joined the Congress after he was denied a ticket in the 2017 polls. He said he was returning to the BJP as he has seen the party’s work in Uttarakhand. “The BJP is working towards making people from the lower castes independent, while the Congress has made them dependent on subsidies since Independence. I’ve joined the party today after seeing the BJP’s great work in Uttarakhand,” he said.

The BJP has been plagued by corruption charges in the state, besides facing criticism for its poor handling of the pandemic and lack of development. Factionalism in the Uttarakhand unit has also been troubling the saffron party.

However, the appointment of Dhami – who is the state’s third chief minister since the BJP came to power in 2017 – seems to have improved the situation, party leaders said. Dhami had replaced Tirath Singh Rawat who had taken over in March from Trivendra Singh Rawat.

The party is likely to replace at least 35-40 per cent of its sitting MLAs in the next elections to tide over the anti-incumbency factor, sources said.

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