Ashok Tanwar will not join the BJP, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar declared today, hours after the former Haryana Congress chief posted a four-page resignation letter on his Twitter account. Mr Khattar, who said only political leaders with "clean past" and "no baggage" would be allowed to join the party, also dismissed suggestions Mr Tanwar, 43, had resigned because he had been invited to join the BJP. "Had the BJP invited him, he would have come by now," Mr Khattar said.
Ashok Tanwar, who only last month was removed as Haryana Congress chief after being appointed in 2014, resigned alleging irregularities and corruption in ticket distribution ahead of Haryana state polls scheduled for October 21 and said the party was "going through existential crises".
"I after several months of consideration tender my resignation from the primary membership of the Congress party, which I nurtured from my sweat and blood. My fight is not personal but against the system which is destroying the grand old party," his resignation letter read.
Earlier this week Mr Tanwar, in a letter to interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi, accused the party of being "unresponsive" and alleged election tickets were being "sold". As an example he cited the Sohna Assembly seat which he said had been "sold" for Rs 5 crore.
Chief Minister Khattar grabbed the opportunity to attack the Congress.
"Nothing works in Congress without money," he told reporters, adding, "Earlier also, it used to happen. People and leaders have understood that they should not remain in such a party. A lot of their people are contacting us and we are saying that we will take people whose past is clean and who face no allegation and carry no baggage," he said.
The Congress has struggled with defections ahead of polls in both Haryana, where the BJP is set to field three former Congress MLAs, and Maharashtra, where three leaders quit in the space of 24 hours.
According to news agency IANS, the BJP will field 15 candidates who switched allegiances shortly before polls.
The BJP won 47 seats in the 90-member house in 2014 polls, with the Congress managing only 15. The party has set itself a target of 75 seats this time and has fielded stars like wrestlers Yogeshwar Dutt and Babita Phogat to persuade voters.
With input from PTI, IANS