Denied Ticket, Chhattisgarh Congress MLA Chintamani Maharaj Joins BJP

Chintamani Maharaj joined the BJP in the presence of the party's state in-charge Om Mathur and state unit general secretary Pavan Sai at a function in Ambikapur, headquarters of Surguja district.

Denied Ticket, Chhattisgarh Congress MLA Chintamani Maharaj Joins BJP

Chintamani Maharaj is the third Congress legislator who has turned rebel after being denied a ticket.

Ambikapur:

Congress MLA Chintamani Maharaj who was denied ticket by the party for the next month's assembly elections joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday.

He is the third legislator from the ruling party who has turned rebel after being denied a ticket.

Maharaj joined the BJP in the presence of the party's state in-charge Om Mathur and state unit general secretary Pavan Sai at a function in Ambikapur, headquarters of Surguja district.

“It is a 'ghar wapsi' (home coming) of Chintamani Maharaj. There would have been some issues earlier, so he had left (BJP). Today we are very happy that our former worker who established the party in the region has returned,” Mr Mathur told reporters.

Maharaj had left the BJP and joined the Congress ahead of the 2013 assembly polls.

Asked whether he will be fielded as a BJP candidate in the coming Lok Sabha elections, Mr Mathur said "wait for it." Maharaj currently represents Samri seat in Balrampur district, but the Congress gave ticket to Vijay Paikra from the constituency this time.

The BJP has fielded Udeshwari Paikra, a Zila panchayat member, from Samri.

Maharaj won from Lundra seat on a Congress ticket in 2013, becoming an MLA for the first time. In 2018, Congress fielded him from Samri where he defeated the BJP's Siddhnath Paikra by 21,923 votes.

Last week, senior BJP MLA Brijmohan Agrawal and former state BJP chief Vishnu Deo Sai met him at a religious function in Samri. Afterwards, Maharaj told reporters that he might join the BJP if he was fielded him from Ambikapur (against Congress candidate and Deputy Chief Minister TS Singh Deo.) The BJP was ready to give him ticket for the next year's Lok Sabha polls but he insisted on ticket from Ambikapur for the assembly elections, he claimed.

The BJP, however, fielded Rajesh Agrawal, a new face, from Ambikapur.

Maharaj is the son of social worker and religious leader late Sant Rameshwar Gahira Guru who had a considerable influence in north Chhattisgarh, particularly in tribal communities.

Two other Congress MLAs who have turned rebel after being denied ticket are Anoop Nag and Kismat Lal Nand.

Nag was expelled from the party after he decided to contest as an independent from Antagarh.

Nand joined the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) and is contesting on its ticket from Saraipali, his existing constituency.

Polling for the 90-member Chhattisgarh assembly will be held in two phases on November 7 and 17.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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