Bharatiya Janata Party leader Balendu Shukla switched camps to rejoin the Congress in Madhya Pradesh on Friday, ANI reported. The development comes ahead of the Assembly bye-polls in the state, likely to be held in September.
The former state minister was part of the Congress but had reportedly quit the party in 2009 because of his differences with Jyotiraditya Scindia, who joined the BJP in March. Shukla is said to be displeased with Scindia’s entry into the saffron party.
Shukla was welcomed back into the Congress fold at former chief minister Kamal Nath’s residence. The former chief minister called Shukla’s entry back to the party “a homecoming”. “Balendu Shukla joined Congress,” Nath said. “The reason why he left the Congress earlier is not in the party anymore. We all welcome them. There are many people who want to join the party.”
Shukla is the second leader to return to the Congress from the BJP in recent times, according to The Indian Express. On May 31, former Lok Sabha MP Premchand Borasi “Guddu” rejoined the Congress, within two years of quitting the party and joining the BJP. He also reportedly cited Scindia as the reason to quit the saffron party.
There are speculations that the Congress could field Shukla as a candidate when the bye-elections to 24 seats are announced. Shukla has always contested from seats in and around Gwalior.
The Kamal Nath-led government in Madhya Pradesh collapsed in March after 22 MLAs, considered close to former Congress leader Scindia resigned. They later joined the BJP. Scindia had joined the saffron party on March 11 and was named the party’s Rajya Sabha candidate from Madhya Pradesh.
BJP leader and former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan took oath for the post on March 23. The next day, he won a trust vote in the Assembly, from which all Congress MLAs absented themselves. MLAs from the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and Independent leaders voted in favour of the motion.