Congress heavyweight Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya joins BJP in Rajasthan

An influential tribal face of the party, Mr. Malviya was also a member of the Congress Working Committee. His was reportedly angry with the Opposition party for not being appointed the Leader of the Opposition in Rajasthan

February 19, 2024 04:33 pm | Updated 10:40 pm IST - Jaipur

Congress MLA Mahendra Jeet Malviya being welcomed by Rajasthan BJP President CP Joshi and other leaders as he joins BJP at the party office, in Jaipur, Monday, Feb. 19, 2024.

Congress MLA Mahendra Jeet Malviya being welcomed by Rajasthan BJP President CP Joshi and other leaders as he joins BJP at the party office, in Jaipur, Monday, Feb. 19, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI

In a major setback to the Opposition Congress in Rajasthan, veteran leader and the party’s influential tribal face, Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya, on February 19 joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Mr. Malviya, 63, is a four-time MLA, a former Minister and a member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), joined the BJP in the presence of party’s State in-charge Arun Singh.

Elected from Bagidora in Banswara district for the fourth straight term since 2008, Mr. Malviya was miffed at not being appointed the Leader of the Opposition after the Congress’s defeat in the 2023 State Assembly election. He was also elected an MP from Banswara in 1998 and he served as a Minister twice in the Congress regimes in the State.

Mr. Malviya was inducted into the BJP at a brief ceremony at the party’s State headquarters here. BJP State president C.P. Joshi and other leaders welcomed him as a new member of the fraternity. There were indications that the BJP would give him ticket for the Lok Sabha election from Banswara-Dungarpur seat, where it has been striving to gain ground.

Leader hails Modi’s leadership

Mr. Malviya told presspersons that he had joined the BJP with “full devotion” for ensuring development of the Vagad region, comprising the tribal-dominated Banswara and Dungarpur districts. “There is no one else who can work for public welfare in the tribal areas, except the BJP and [Prime Minister] Narendra Modi. I am impressed by the works and policies of the Modi government,” he said.

The tribal leader also said he was influenced by Mr. Modi’s address during the BJP’s national convention in New Delhi on Sunday. “I was hurt by the Congress leadership’s decision not to participate in the consecration of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. I am a Hindu and a worshipper of deities… I found it unacceptable,” Mr. Malviya said.

Exploited us for his benefit: Congress

Reacting to the development, Pradesh Congress president Govind Singh Dotasra said Mr. Malviya had worked for the defeat of party candidates in the Vagad region during the Assembly election, for which he later expressed regret to the party’s leadership.

“Mr. Malviya knew that he was not going to get the Congress ticket for the Lok Sabha election. He had no option other than joining the BJP, as he is struggling to keep himself politically relevant. Everyone knows how the BJP exerts pressure on the Opposition politicians by misusing the Central agencies, but Mr. Malviya wanted to exploit the Congress for his own benefit and for his wife and son,” Mr. Dotasra said.

Of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the State, three are reserved for Scheduled Tribes and two of them are situated in Udaipur division. The Enforcement Directorate had raided the premises of Mr. Malviya’s close associates, including Congress leader Dinesh Khodaniya, just before the 2023 Assembly polls.

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