In what has become a shocking switchover that gave a big jolt to the Congress party, a flock of 26 leaders of the party joined the BJP and the development has come days ahead of Himachal Pradesh assembly polls where the Congress is facing a litmus test of taking over the reign in the midst of BJP's fierce campaign trails.
Himachal Pradesh is all set to go for crucial assembly polls on Saturday - November 12 where the voters will be electing members for the state's 68 assembly seats. The votes will be counted on December 8, 2022, during which the results will be announced. The intense race is between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress and both parties are in the final phase of their campaign tours.
When the polls are just days away, the Congress party was hit by a piece of news that came from nowhere. A group of 26 Congress leaders in Himachal Pradesh joined the BJP on Monday - November 7. The dissented Congress leaders were welcomed to the BJP by Chief Minister Jairam Thakur and Sudhan Singh, who is in charge of BJP state elections.
Among the Congress leaders who switched side is Dharampal Thakur Khand, the former general secretary of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee. The others who joined the BJP include former secretary Akash Saini, former councilor Rajan Thakur, former vice president of a district Congress Amit Mehta, Youth Congress leader Rahul Negi, District Congress Committee Secretary Devendra Singh, and former general secretary of Youth Congress, Munish Mandla.
Welcoming the Congress leaders to the BJP, Chief Minister Thakur said, "Let us work together for the historic victory of the BJP." Thakur is on his last leg of the campaign tour and on Monday, he expressed confidence that the BJP would rule the state for the next 25 years. Claiming that the BJP will break the trend that no incumbent government will come to power for another term this time, Thakur said that the Congress may be banking on this trend but people have made up their minds to break this tradition.
Speaking at the poll events in Banjur in the Kullu district and Chaupal in Shimla, Thakur said Congress leaders claim it is their turn this time. He stated, "We tell them that they used to say the same thing in Uttarakhand and other states. What happened there? Did they come to power again?". He further said, "The Congress people are making various promises to people and saying we will give this guarantee. It is ironic that those who cannot give a guarantee for themselves are talking of offering guarantees."
Earlier, BJP National President JP Nadda expressed his confidence in the party's victory in the Himachal Pradesh polls and said that the people of the state trust Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Speaking to the reporters in the city of Solan, Nadda said, "We are conducting public outreach programme in Solan. People are excited and have trust in PM Modi. CM Jairam Thakur has implemented policies on the ground in the state."