Senior BJP leader BC Khanduri's son, Manish Khanduri, joined the Congress in the presence of party president Rahul Gandhi at a rally in Dehradun on Saturday. According to news agency PTI, the Congress is likely to field him from Pauri -- a Lok Sabha seat once held by his father -- in the upcoming general elections.
Welcoming Manish Khanduri, Mr Gandhi said that his presence will further strengthen the party's presence in Uttarakhand. He also accused the BJP government of sidelining BC Khanduri, who was a major general in the army before joining politics, for posing a simple question related to the country's security in parliament.
"BC Khanduri gave all his life to the army. But when he asked a question on national security and spoke the truth about the government not helping the army in a way it should, he was removed from the chairmanship of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence," news agency ANI quoted Mr Gandhi as saying.
The Congress alleges that BC Khanduri was removed from the post last September because a report tabled by the committee had cited "low armament stocks" in the military. "The panel headed by him was critical of the country's defence preparedness," party leader Suryakant Dhasmana had said back then. "Khanduri is reputed for his honesty, and the centre does not want the truth on defence matters to be disclosed."
The retired army officer claimed that he has no objection to his son joining a party that's at loggerheads with his own. "My son is an educated person who can do whatever he desires. I fail to understand why questions are being raised in this regard. Politics is not some family business that he should follow me. It would have been a different matter if he was a party worker who shifted loyalty, but that isn't the case. He is an engineering graduate who has lived in the United States and formed his own point of view. It is not necessary that he should be where I am," news agency ANI quoted him as saying.
BC Khanduri also affirmed his decision to refrain from contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. "I had announced long ago that I will not fight the elections. I feel that young people should be given an opportunity instead. I have already been in politics for about 30 years now," he said.
The veteran BJP leader had served as the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand for two terms between 2007 and 2012.
(With inputs from Agencies)
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