Jolt to Congress in Gujarat as its Rajya Sabha MP Naran Rathwa joins BJP ahead of LS polls


PTI, Feb 27, 2024, 5:29 PM IST

Rajya Sabha member and former Union minister Naran Rathwa on Tuesday joined the ruling BJP along with his son and a large number of supporters (Source: X formerly Twitter)

Gandhinagar: In a major blow to the opposition Congress in Gujarat, its Rajya Sabha member and former Union minister Naran Rathwa on Tuesday joined the ruling BJP along with his son and a large number of supporters here ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Rathwa is a tribal leader from Chhota Udepur in Gujarat. His tenure as the Rajya Sabha member is coming to end in April this year. He was elected to the Lok Sabha five times in the past – first in 1989, then in 1991, 1996, 1998 and 2004.

Rathwa’s son Sangramsinh had unsuccessfully contested the 2022 assembly election as a Congress candidate from the Scheduled Tribes (ST)-reserved Chhota Udepur seat. He joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) along with his father and a large number of supporters.

Rathwa was a Minister of State for Railways in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2004, and had lost to Ramsinh Rathwa of the BJP in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

Gujarat BJP chief C R Paatil inducted Rathwa and others into the party at the party’s state unit headquarters ‘Kamalam’, welcoming them by offering saffron scarves and caps. Talking to media persons later, Rathwa said he does not harbour any resentment towards the Congress, but decided to join the BJP so that the state’s tribal region does not lag behind in the development journey and progresses rapidly and without any hurdles.

”I am influenced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s way of functioning, which I noticed for six years as a Rajya Sabha member…We want to work together and without any opposition so that all such development works are completed at a rapid pace and the tribal region is not left behind in the journey of development,” he said.

Another former Congress leader Dharmendra Patel, who had unsuccessfully fought the 2022 state assembly polls from the Amraiwadi seat in Ahmedabad, also joined the BJP at the same event.

Patel said he was with the BJP six years ago, and it was a kind of ”ghar wapsi” (homecoming) for him.

”In the last six years with the Congress, I realised that the party lacked a direction and vision that characterises the ruling party, he told media persons after joining the saffron party,” he said.

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