The Congress has received a shot in the arm on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections. Several prominent leaders such as former Minister and president of the Hyderabad Karnataka Horata Samiti Vaijnath Patil, former Chairman of the Mysore Sales International Ltd. (MSIL) Vikram Patil, national executive committee member of the Janata Dal (Secular) and Banjara community leader Babu Honna Naik, and founder president of the Jai Karnataka Rakshana Vedike and youth leader Arunkumar Patil and his followers have joined the party.

While both Mr. Babu Honna Naik and Mr. Arunkumar Patil and supporters joined the party in the presence of Railway Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge in Gulbarga on Wednesday, Mr. Vaijnath Patil and his son Dr. Vikram Patil, along with their supporters, will join the Congress in the presence of KPCC president G. Parameshwara and former Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh in Bidar on Thursday.

Mr. Vaijnath Patil and his son joining the Congress will go a long way in helping the party as it will further the chances of Mr. Dharam Singh, party candidate from Bidar Lok Sabha seat, retaining the seat. Mr. Vaijnath Patil hails from Chincholi and has won twice from Chincholi Assembly constituency, which is part of Bidar Lok Sabha seat. Mr. Babu Naik also wields considerable influence over the Banjara votes in Bidar and Gulbarga Lok Sabha constituency. Incidentally, Mr. Honna Naik had contested as the Janata Dal (S) candidate against Mr. Kharge and had polled 27,130 votes.

Mr. Vaijnath Patil told The Hindu that his decision to join the Congress was taken after a long discussion with his supporters and well-wishers. “The Congress played a crucial role in protecting the democratic institutions, and in this crucial juncture, when the BJP is seeking to transfer all power to one single individual, Narendra Modi, the Congress is the only hope before the people,” he said.

He also said the Congress was responsible for conceding the long-pending demand for amendment to Article 371(J) and Mr. Kharge and Mr. Dharam Singh played a crucial role in this regard.

Mr. Honna Naik said he had been in touch with Mr. Kharge and Mr. Singh for the past one year, and had always wanted to join the Congress, which is the one party committed to the welfare of the poor and downtrodden.

Mr. Arunkumar Patil joining the party will do a world of good in Gulbarga Lok Sabha constituency, particularly in the Gulbarga South and North Assembly segments, where he has considerable influence. Others who joined the party included Vijaykumar Mehta, Sharanabasappa Kavalagi, Siddaramappa Padashetty, Vinod Honagontikar, Gopal Buchanalli and Sharanabasappa Pappa.

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