Two-time Uttarakhand chief minister and senior BJP leader Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri’s son Manish Kunduri on Saturday joined Congress in the presence of Rahul Gandhi. He joined the opposition party at a rally in capital Dehradun. Congress president, while welcoming Manish in the party, said his joining would make Congress strong in Uttarakhand. The joining of Manish comes three weeks before the 2019 Lok Sabha election in the country. Earlier, BJP removed his father as the chairperson of the parliamentary standing committee on defence last year.

Addressing a Parivarthan rally in Dehradun, Gandhi said that BC Khanduri was the chairman of defence standing committee but was removed from the position by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Gandhi added that the removal of senior Khanduri comes after he raised concerns in the Parliament on national security. He alleged that there is no place for truth in BJP.

Gandhi also attacked PM Modi for not acting against Nirav Modi. He said that economic offender fled from India with Rs 35,000 crore public money. He added that the UK government wrote to BJP-led government and offered to detain Nirav Modi but the prime minister did not act.

The joining of Manish is seen as a jolt to BJP which has intensified election campaign in the country and are trying hard to retain all the five Lok Sabha seats in Uttrakhand. Reports claim that his father would not contest the upcoming elections.

Earlier, considered as close to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, senior Congress leader Tom Vadakkan deserted his party and joined ruling BJP. Vadakkan had said that he was deeply hurt after Congress raised questions over the Indian Air Force’s air strikes on terror camps in Pakistan.

Also, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s aunt Sobhana Sasikumar and her husband Sasikumar joined the BJP.

Meanwhile, BC Khanduri is sitting parliamentarian from Garhwal constituency. He was the minister of surface transport in the Union Cabinet headed by late prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Uttarakhand is comprised of Garhwal, Tehri Garhwal, Almora, Hardwar and Nainital-Udhamsingh Nagar Lok Sabha seats. The elections for 5 seats would be conducted in the first phase on April 11. In the 2014 parliamentary polls in the northern state, BJP had won all the five seats and registered an overwhelming victory. In the 71-seat legislature, BJP has 57 seats while Congress has 11.

The national elections in the country would begin from April 11 to May 19. The polls would be conducted in seven phases and the counting would be done on May 23.

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