Manvendra Singh, son of veteran BJP leader Jaswant Singh, joined the Congress on wednesday in a significant political development ahead of the assembly elections in Rajasthan.
He met Congress president Rahul Gandhi before joining the party in the presence of leaders, including Ashok Gehlot, Sachin Pilot, Avinash Pande and Randeep Surjewala. The party announced the move at a press conference.
"I met Rahul Gandhi in the morning and he welcomed me into the Party. I have confidence that my supporters will continue to support me," Manvendra said.
Congress leaders believe his joining the party will help bring in Rajput votes in the assembly polls.
The move came after Manvendra declared he would quit the BJP in his ‘Swabhiman Rally’ held in Barmer last month where he had said "Kamal ka phool, badi bhool".
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that the decision will not have any impact on the party’s prospects in western Rajasthan.
"It is a politically wrong decision of Manvendra Singh which will have no impact on the BJP. Rajput votes have been with the BJP and will remain with us," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rajendra Rathore told reporters.
Polling in Rajasthan will be held on December 7.
Manvendra Singh won as a BJP candidate from the Sheo assembly constituency of Barmer district in 2013 assembly polls.
His father Jaswant Singh was denied ticket by the party in 2014 Lok Sabha elections following which he (Jaswant) contested elections as an independent candidate and lost the seat to BJP’s Sonaram, who had joined the party from the Congress and was backed by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.
The decision of not allowing Jaswant Singh to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls antagonised the Rajput community that held Raje responsible for neglecting Jaswant Singh for an "outsider" Sonaram.
There was resentment among his supporters who rallied after Manvendra Singh making it an issue of their ‘swabhiman’.>