Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri’s son Manish Khanduri joined the Congress on Saturday at a rally in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, in the presence of party chief Rahul Gandhi, PTI reported. Gandhi said Manish Khanduri would strengthen the party.

Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri, who represents Garhwal in the 16th Lok Sabha, is a retired Army major general. He served as the chief minister of Uttarakhand from 2007 to 2009 and between 2011 and 2012. The veteran BJP leader also served in the Union Cabinet in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. Last year, he was removed as the chairperson of the parliamentary standing committee on defence.

“[BC] Khanduri ji was the chairman of Parliament’s Defence Committee,” Gandhi said. “He was removed from the position by Narendra Modi, because he raised concerns in the Parliament on national security. There is no place for truth in BJP.”

Manish Khanduri said the Congress would make the country stronger under Gandhi’s leadership. He said: “Before coming here, I sought blessings of my father. He asked me if I can walk on path of truth, I said, ‘yes’.”

Rahul Gandhi questions prime minister

Meanwhile, in his address, the Congress president took on the BJP-led government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He accused the prime minister of posing for cameras at the Corbett National Park in the state last month hours after Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir by the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist group, PTI reported.

“Immediately after the Pulwama attack, in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed, the Congress had said it was with the government and the country. I had cancelled all my programmes,” Gandhi said. “Everyone knows what Narendra Modi was doing when our jawans were being killed. He was posing for the cameras to shoot for a National Geographic documentary.”

After the event, the Congress president visited the homes of CRPF officer Mohan Lal, who lost his life in the Pulwama attack, and Major Chitresh Singh Bisht, who was killed on February 16 while defusing an improvised explosive device in Kashmir’s Rajouri district.

At the rally, Gandhi on Saturday also reiterated his party’s promise to introduce guaranteed minimum income for the poor if his party is voted to power, PTI reported.

The Congress president also asked how businessman Nirav Modi, who is accused of defrauding Punjab National Bank, was able to flee the country with “Rs 35,000 crore of public money”. The government of United Kingdom wrote to the Centre, offering help to catch Nirav Modi but the prime minister did not respond, he alleged. “Prime Minister Modi gave the money in the country’s public banks to other Modis,” Gandhi claimed.