Bhagwan Barad, a senior Congress MLA from Gujarat, on Wednesday resigned from the party and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party weeks before Assembly polls in the state, reported PTI.

Barad, who won the Talala seat in Gir Somnath district in 2017, is an influential leader of the Ahir community. He won the Talala constituency in 2007 as well.

The 63-year-old politician told reporters that he decided to quit the Congress after consulting at least 4,000 of his supporters. Barad also claimed that he did not join the BJP with any pre-condition to get a poll ticket.

In 2019, Barad was disqualified as a legislator by Rajendra Trivedi, who was the Assembly Speaker at the time, after a local court sentenced him to two years and nine months in jail in a two-decade-old illegal mining case.

However months later, his suspension was revoked after the Gujarat High Court stayed his conviction till the pendency of his appeal, reported PTI.

The Assembly polls in Gujarat will held be held in two phases on December 1 and December 5. The results will be declared on December 8 along with the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections.

The development came a day after Mohansinh Rathva, a ten-time Congress MLA from Gujarat, also joined the BJP. Rathva is a senior prominent Adivasi leader and currently represents the Chhota Udaipur constituency in central Gujarat.

The 78-year-old politician’s resignation came after he announced that he will not seek a ticket for the Assembly elections but wanted the Congress to field his son from his seat instead. Congress Rajya Sabha MP Naran Rathva had also sought ticket for his son from the same seat.