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Setback for BJP as MLA quits party

Rajesh Ahuja

CHANDIGARH: The Bharatiya Janata Party, which had two MLAs in the 90-member Haryana Vidhan Sabha, has suffered a major setback with one of them, Ram Kumar Gautam, resigning from the party as well as the Assembly.

The Vidhan Sabha Speaker, Raghuvir Singh Kadian, has accepted the resignation of Mr. Gautam with effect from April 22. In a notification issued on Thursday, Vidhan Sabha Secretary Sumit Kumar confirmed that Mr. Ram Kumar had resigned from his seat --- 71–Narnaund Constituency--- and thereby the seat had fallen vacant.

Political observers here said the parting of ways between Mr. Gautam, who till recently was the BJP legislature party leader in the Assembly, and the BJP was a foregone conclusion as the former had raised strong objection to the BJP’s revival of alliance with the Indian National Lok Dal. He had also openly criticised BJP leaders including Mr. L. K. Advani for forging an alliance with the Chautala clan in spite of bitter experiences in the past.

Observers here recall that disciplinary action was initiated against the maverick MLA and he had been stripped of the legislature party leadership.

‘Close to Congress’

Even though Mr. Gautam did not spell out his future course of action while talking to the local media in Hisar, observers said that his open praise of the functioning of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was clearly indicative that he had come “close to the Congress” and could join the party shortly.

Interestingly, Mr. Gautam had adopted a soft approach towards the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government both inside and outside the Assembly, it is commonly said. On Thursday, Mr. Gautam did not mince words while asserting that Mr. Advani had committed political hara-kiri in his “ambition” to become the PM by entering into an alliance with the INLD which would ultimately prove counter-productive for the party as the BJP leaders and grassroots workers were even now “not happy” with the decision of the party high command.

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