- In Chhattisgarh, Ram Dayal Uike quits Congress and joins the BJP
- Switching sides before polls is not uncommon, says state Congress chief
- Two-phase polls in Chhattisgarh; on November 12 and 20
With state elections just a month away, the Congress in Chhattisgarh suffered a massive setback today as senior leader Ram Dayal Uike joined the BJP. Mr Uike, who was Congress's state executive president, was inducted into the BJP by party chief Amit Shah in the presence of Chief Minister Raman Singh, in Bilaspur.
"We met a few days ago but Ram Dayal Uike did not say anything," Chhattisgarh Congress chief Bhupesh Bhaghel told NDTV, adding that politicians switching parties in the election season is not uncommon.
Mr Uike is a four-time lawmaker from Pali in Chhattisgarh.
The Congress election decision making body, chaired by Rahul Gandhi, had finalised the candidates for Chhattisgarh yesterday. Sources in the party said, the names will be announced in a day or two. The party has been unable to stitch an alliance with the regional parties for the Assembly elections.
The Congress had already suffered a setback in Chhattisgarh last month, when the state party chief was caught in a sex CD controversy and was sent to jail. Mr Bhaghel is now out on bail.
18 of the 90 Assembly constituencies in Chhattisgarh will vote on November 12, including the Maoist-affected Bastar and Rajnandgaon districts. The second phase of polling is on November 20. Results will be declared on December 11.
Mr Uike quitting the Congress comes on a day when Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) chief Mayawati is in the state to kick off the election campaign for the first phase of the polls. Leaving the Congress in a lurch, Mayawati last month forged an alliance with Ajit Jogi's Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) for the upcoming elections.
BJP chief Amit Shah, while kicking off the campaign in Chhattisgarh yesterday, asked party workers to create an environment for a "massive wave" in the favour of BJP, so that it turned into a "tsunami" in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.