Uttarakhand’s Transport Minister Yashpal Arya and his son, Sanjeev Arya, on Monday, quit the Bharatiya Janata Party and joined Congress, ANI reported. Yashpal Arya has sent his resignation to Uttarakhand Governor Gurmit Singh.

Yashpal Arya, a prominent leader of the state’s Dalit community, met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi at his home in Delhi on Monday. He and Sanjeev Arya were inducted into the party at the Congress headquarters in the Delhi by senior party leaders.

“Today, I am coming back to my family and returning home,” he said. “There can’t be a day better than this… I will serve Congress without any condition and will cooperate in the formation of the Congress government in the state.”

The minister and his son had quit Congress and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2017, ahead of Assembly elections in Uttarakhand. Yashpal Arya was reportedly upset with the way Congress leader Harish Rawat functioned as the then chief minister of Uttarakhand, PTI reported.

On Monday, Rawat said that the Congress was pained when Yashpal Arya had left. “He is today joining back at a time when the party is fighting several challenges,” Rawat said.

Congress General Secretary Randeep Surjewala said that Yashpal Arya had played a significant role in improving the condition of Scheduled Castes in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Congress MP KC Venugopal said that the two leaders coming back to the Congress was a “clear-cut indication that the wind was in the party’s favour” ahead of the 2022 Uttarakhand Assembly polls.

Yashpal Arya has served as the president of Congress’ youth wing, the chief of Congress’ Uttarakhand unit between 2007 and 2017, and as the speaker of the first Uttarakhand Assembly between 2002 and 2007.

He has been elected as an MLA on six occasions, including twice from Uttar Pradesh, before Uttarakhand was carved out of it.

Currently, Yashpal Arya represents the Bajpur Assembly constituency in the state. His son represents the Nainital constituency.

Another BJP leader, Harinder Singh Laddi also joined the Congress on Monday.