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Cong leader Satpal Maharaj joins BJP Email this page
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NEW DELHI/DEHRADUN: Senior Uttarakhand leader Satpal Maharaj today joined BJP saying he felt “hurt and suffocated” in Congress which had “neglected” the hill state.
Maharaj, who is a spiritual leader with considerable following in the region, alleged that Congress had ignored the plight of victims of last year’s natural tragedy in the state.

“Due to the slipshod approach of the Congress, the development of Uttarakhand as envisioned by statehood agitationists still remains an unaccomplished task which is an injustice to the people of the hill state,” the Pauri Garhwal MP said, adding, “all records of price rise and corruption have been broken”.

The leader, whose wife Amrita Rawat is a Cabinet Minister in the Congress government in Uttarakhand, said he wanted Narendra Modi to become the Prime Minister as a strong leadership was the need of the hour for the country.

Maharaj said he sent his resignation to Sonia Gandhi as he felt “hurt, neglected and suffocated in the Congress party”.

The MP said he had joined the BJP unconditionally for the development of the country and vowed to campaign throughout the country to help it achieve the target of winning 272 seats in the coming Lok Sabha polls.

Welcoming Maharaj into the party, BJP President Rajnath Singh said in Delhi that Maharaj’s presence will strengthen BJP further, adding that it indicated people’s faith in Modi’s leadership and frustration with the current regime.

Taking on the state government for its alleged slipshod handling of the situation arising out of the June calamity, Maharaj said people who lost their homes were given a compensation of Rs seven lakh but no land to rebuild their homes which has led to their collective migration from the flood-hit hill areas of the state.

“People are suffering and nothing has been done for them. Hills are in danger as people are relocating to plains for making a living,” he said.

Maharaj was said to be unhappy with the Congress for picking Harish Rawat as the state’s Chief Minister and had recently announced that he would not contest the Lok Sabha election.

The 62-year-old leader has been with Congress all along barring a few years in 90s when he joined the breakaway Congress (Tiwari).

Meanwhile, MLAs loyal to Maharaj rubbished speculation that they might also quit the party, saying the MP’s decision to join BJP was personal and they were still with Congress.

The MP is said to be having support of half a dozen MLAs,

The ruling Congress has 33 MLAs and has the support of seven-member PDF which consists of three BSP MLAs, three Independents and one UKD member in the 70-member Uttarakhand Assembly. Opposition BJP has 30 MLAs. Noting that development of the hill people had always been his goal, Maharaj said his advice regarding the relief and rehabilitation of people hit by last year’s calamity were ignored by the state government.

He also alleged that a railway line project from Rishikesh to Karnaprayag which would have been very useful to take rations for defense personnel has been hanging fire with no land allocated for the project.

Similarly, work on the much awaited Gairsain Vidhan Bhawan project has not yet started despite its foundation stone laid amid much fanfare more than a year ago.

“All records of price rise and corruption have been broken and people who lost their homes in the calamity still don’t have a roof over their head. Roads are still damaged in the affected areas.

“Being an MP from the area, it is my duty to offer all possible help to the affected people but I can’t as the Congress is indifferent to my suggestions on the issue. All this has forced me to submit my resignation with a heavy heart today,” he said.–PTI

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