Uttarakhand: Jolt to BJP Ahead of Assembly Polls as Minister Yashpal Arya, MLA Son Join Congress
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi welcomes Yashpal Arya (L) and his son Sanjeev (R) to the party. Image Courtesy: Twitter/Congress
New Delhi: Uttarakhand’s ‘double engine’ government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had to change the driver, i.e the Chief Minister, thrice to keep it on track. Yet, BJP faced another big crisis on Monday when its key minister, Yashpal Arya, and his son, Sanjeev, joined the Congress.
Ahead of the next year's Assembly polls, state transport minister Arya’s exit is being seen as a big jolt to BJP, as he was among several Congress leaders who had jumped ship to join the saffron party.
Arya and his son, along with their supporters, joined the Congress in the presence of senior party leaders Harish Rawat, K C Venugopal and Randeep Surjewala in New Delhi.
Earlier in the day, they met former Congress president Rahul Gandhi at his residence.
From 2007 to 2014, Arya was the president of Uttarakhand Congress and had been a former speaker and a minister in the Congress government led by Rawat.
"It is an important day for me as I have returned to my family. It is my 'ghar wapsi'. There can't be a happier day for me. I feel relieved after my return," Arya said soon after joining the Congress.
Arya represents the Bajpur (SC) assembly constituency in the state. He earlier represented the Mukteshwar assembly constituency. He is a former Speaker and was a minister in the Congress government led by Harish Rawat.
Arya said he will work selflessly to strengthen the party.
"If the Congress emerges stronger, then democracy will be strengthened further," he said.
Arya said he started his political life in the Congress and has been Youth Congress president, twice Uttarakhand Congress president and then the Speaker of the first Uttarakhand assembly in his 40 year-long political life.
Arya has been a six-time MLA, including twice from Uttar Pradesh when Uttarakhand was part of it.
His son Sanjeev Arya represents the Nainital Assembly constituency in Uttarakhand.
Another BJP leader Harinder Singh Laddi, who had earlier been the vice chief Uttarakhand's Irrigation Advisory Committee, also joined the Congress.
In the hill state, which shares its border with Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has been divided house, with infighting and misgovernance leading to change of three chief ministers – Trivendra Singh Rawat, Tirath Singh Rawat and the latest being the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh- schooled Pushkar Singh Dhami.
However, the composition of the BJP Ministry in Uttarakhand shows that the state party has quite a few Congress leaders who switched sides.
Of the total eight ministers, five -- Satpal Maharaj, Yashpal Arya, Harak Singh Rawat, Rekha Arya and Subodh Uniyal – are all from Congress.
(with inputs from PTI)
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