As poll bugle plays, Chhattisgarh candidates jump ships

As poll bugle plays, Chhattisgarh candidates jump ships

Veteran journalist and now a Congress candidate, Ruchir Garg, meets Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

In a major political twist, just before the state Assembly elections, the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress committee working president Ramdayal Uike on Saturday changed camp and took BJP membership in presence of party chief Amit Shah.

Similarly, veteran journalist Ruchir Garg took membership of the Congress in presence of AICC president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi. Another farmer leader from Chandrapur, Ram Kumar Yadav, also joined the Congress.

Ulike has had a history of changing camps. During the formation of the state, he was a BJP MLA. He had vacated his Assembly seat of Marwarhi for the then chief minister, Ajit Jogi. This too, created a political uproar.

Consequently, he shifted allegiance and came to the Congress. He then fought elections from Tanakhar Assembly constituency and won twice.

After this, even though he was close to Jogi, he did not ally with Jogi when he floated his own party, the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J).

Things started falling apart between Ulike and the Congress when the latter began talks with Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP) for the Tanakhar Assembly seat. This reportedly inconvenienced Ulike.

The CPCC president, however, said that the Congress had always given him "due respect." And that, Ulike's changing party "was opportunistic."

MEanwhile in New Delhi, a meeting was set up between Ruchir Garg and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Garg was accompanied by CPCC president Bhupesh Baghel and Chhattisgarh AICC in-charge P L Punia. Later, all formalities of Garg's membership were completed.

With this move, the Congress now feels that it has got a candidate with a clean image, sources said. 

Garg is a member of the Editors Guild of India. He is also known for his Leftist inclinations.

Rumours are rife that Garg would contest from Raipur City South, which is a strong-hold of Agriculture minister Brijmohan Agrawal.