National Politics

‘Congress Chhodo’ In Maharashtra? GOP Veteran Set To Join BJP When Rahul’s Yatra Arrives In State

Bharat Congress Yatra

Mumbai: Congress’ ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, the 3,500 Km long foot march from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, is in its 12th day, and is passing through the Southern state of Kerala. The Yatra has so far seen a fair turnout of people, with hundreds of Congress leaders, workers and supporters walking along with Rahul Gandhi for almost 20 Km a day. Though the Congress cadre seems charged up because of the Yatra and its coverage, there also have been attempts by the BJP to discredit the foot march of the GOP. The saffron party had earlier termed the Yatra as ‘Congress Jodo Yatra’, saying the Gandhi family and their party are trying to test their ground and stitch the broken organisation together.

After inauguration of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, and the enthusiasm it infused in Congress sympathisers, the first blow was dealt by the BJP on Wednesday, September 13. The tall claims about changing winds in politics due to Bharat Jodo Yatra were subdued only on its 6th day, as Congress’ eight out of 11 MLAs in the Goa state Assembly joined BJP. Among those MLAs who joined the BJP include former chief minister Digambar Kamat, former leader of opposition in the state Assembly Michael Lobo, Delilah Lobo, Rajesh Phaldesai, Kedar Naik, Sankalp Amonkar, Aleixo Sequeira and Rudolf Fernandes.

The saffron party was quick to latch onto these defections to target the Congress and its Bharat Jodo Yatra. The BJP said that Congress leaders are deserting the party sensing defeat in upcoming General elections, and the party’s foot march should instead be named ‘Congress Chhodo Yatra’ (Leave Congress March). The term also had to do with veteran J&K leader Ghulam Nabi Azad quitting the party.

Now, a reliable source has told HW News that the “Congress Chhodo Yatra” could be extended to the Western state of Maharashtra as and when Rahul Gandhi’s foot march arrives in the state. A source aware of the developments has said that a veteran and influential Congress leader, who has held several top posts in state government in the past, is all set to join the saffron party when Congress’ ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ arrives in the state.

The leader, who has been disgruntled with the party since 2019, was considering to join the BJP for a while. People aware of the issue say that the leader in question here, even during the 2.5-year-long MVA government, avoided criticising the BJP openly and maintained a softer tone compared to other colleagues in the party.

The senior leader is now ready to join the BJP, at a time when his joining would hurt Congress Party the most. The source told HW News that the veteran leader will defect to BJP at a time when the Yatra makes inroads into the state, a move that could critically dent the Congress’ prospects of successfully carrying out the Yatra in Maharashtra. It will further strengthen the BJP’s claims about a “Congress Chhodo Yatra”, in which several leaders are quitting the GOP and joining BJP.

According to a report, during polls between 2016-2020, out of the total 405 MLAs who switched parties, 42 per cent were from the Congress while only 4 per cent belonged to the BJP. Many well-known and senior leaders of Congress like Himanta Biswa Sarma, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jitin Prasada have left the party in the last few year. In Maharashtra, senior leaders like Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, Harshvardhan Patil and others have also bid the party goodbye in the past.

The Congress seems to be struggling with defections year after year and there’s no stopping it. If the said leader in this report joins the BJP in the middle of Bharat Jodo Yatra, the Congress is again set to suffer a perception blow, making the belief stronger that it cannot keep its flock together. However, it will be interesting to see how Rahul Gandhi deals with this issue if it arises at all, and what impact it could have on the Bharat Jodo Yatra and overall efforts to revive the grand old party.



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