Former Bharatiya Janata Party MP Savitri Bai Phule on Saturday joined the Congress in the presence of party chief Rahul Gandhi and leaders Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Jyotiraditya Scindia. Phule, an MP from Bahraich constituency in Uttar Pradesh, had quit the BJP in December.

Phule had claimed that the BJP was trying to create divisions in society, and accused the party of being “anti-Dalit”. Phule’s resignation came after she criticised Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath for saying that Hindu god Hanuman was a Dalit.

Responding to Adityanath’s remark, Phule had said if Hanuman was a Dalit then Dalits should be appointed priests in all Hanuman temples across the country.

Phule had also described the BJP’s cleanliness drive on the eve of Gandhi Jayanti as a “publicity stunt”. She had refused to participate in a cleanliness drive organised by the Bahraich Regional Transport Office.

“The people of “Bahujan Samaj” will no longer wield brooms and participate in cleanliness drives,” Phule said, adding that poor Muslims and those from Scheduled Caste communities need employment, security and social respect. “The need of the hour is not to wield brooms but equal rights and equal opportunity,” the parliamentarian had added.

Rakesh Sachan, a former Samajwadi Party lawmaker from Fatehpur, also joined the Congress on Saturday.

The All India Congress Committee welcomed both leaders to the party. “We warmly welcome Savitri Bai Phule ji and Rakesh Sachan ji, who joined Congress party in the presence of honourable Rahul Gandhiji, Priyanka Gandhiji and JM Scindiaji,” it tweeted.