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The Hindu
The Hindu

Haryana Cong leader Kuldeep Bishnoi resigns as MLA, set to join BJP

Haryana MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi, who was expelled by the Congress from all party positions for cross-voting in the June Rajya Sabha polls, resigned from the assembly Wednesday, a day before he joins the ruling BJP.

The 53-year-old Mr. Bishnoi submitted his resignation to Speaker Gian Chand Gupta here.

This necessitates a bypoll for the Adampur seat in Hisar district, which Mr. Bishnoi currently represents.

"I am joining BJP as an ordinary worker," said Mr. Bishnoi, who also quit the Congress formally "taking into account my own feelings and those of my supporters".

Immediately after his resignation, Mr. Bishnoi challenged Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda to contest from Adampur.

"Mr. Hooda had challenged me that Kuldeep Bishnoi should first resign (before joining the BJP). I challenge him, he had been a chief minister for 10 years, let him contest from Adampur against me or my son," he said.

Mr. Bishnoi was expelled from all party positions by Congress soon after he cross-voted in the Rajya Sabha polls in June.

The four-time MLA and two-time MP had been sulking since before that and had raised a banner of revolt after the party ignored him for the post of its Haryana unit chief during a revamp earlier this year.

For the younger son of former Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal, it will be the second parting with the Congress, nearly six years after he had returned to the fold.

Mr. Bishnoi said he resigned as MLA and also quit the Congress "taking into account my own feelings and those of my supporters".

"I feel the Congress is no longer what it used to be during Indira Ji and Rajiv Gandhi Ji's time. Congress has deviated from its ideology. It has been reduced to a party of 'chatukars' (sycophants). Many of those who are running the party are those who either have not fought election or haven't won for decades," Mr. Bishnoi said.

All decisions taken by them are proving wrong across the entire country, he said.

When told that Haryana Congress chief Udai Bhan has said Mr. Bishnoi is joining the BJP because he was under the Enforcement Directorate scanner, Mr. Bishnoi said, "So far, I have not got any notice from the ED nor have they ever summoned me." "Three years ago, there were some searches by the Income Tax Department and all cases are nearly settled," Mr. Bishnoi said, adding he has always done politics of honesty and principles.

"My image has been clean and will remain so in future also," said Mr. Bishnoi, who was accompanied by his wife Renuka, a former legislator, while submitting his resignation to the Speaker at the Vidhan Sabha bhawan.

Replying to a question, Mr. Bishnoi said that BJP will decide who will contest the bypoll from Adampur, but he and people of his constituency want that his son Bhavya Bishnoi contest from there.

He, however, said "whatever is decided by the party, we will respect that".

About BJP, Mr. Bishnoi said BJP thinks keeping the nation's interests in mind.

"And I don't think it will be wrong to say that Narendra Modi is one of the best Prime Ministers. In Haryana, I am impressed with the style of working of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar," he said.

He said apart from the reasons he gave "all these are the factors behind my resignation and quitting Congress".

To a question, he said, "I have seven former MLAs whose list I will give to Chief Minister Khattar and if BJP wants, they too will join the BJP".

Mr. Bishnoi and his father Bhajan Lal had floated the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) in 2007 after the Congress handpicked Bhupinder Singh Hooda for the chief minister's post following the party's thumping victory in the assembly polls in 2005.

The HJC later entered into a tie-up with the BJP and two other parties, who jointly contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in Haryana.

They were supposed to contest the assembly polls together as well but the alliance crumbled.

About six years ago, Mr. Bishnoi did return to the Congress but he and Hooda never had warm relations.

Mr. Bishnoi Tuesday evening held a meeting with his supporters at Adampur and sought suggestions from them on joining the BJP, which was supported by all by raising their hands.

After this, he told them that the time has come to end the long exile.

In recent weeks, Mr. Bishnoi had held meetings with top BJP leaders, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party chief J P Nadda and Khattar, heaped praises on them.

When asked about it, Mr. Hooda said on Tuesday Mr. Bishnoi is free to take a decision on his political future.

"After he resigns as MLA and the seat is declared vacant, the Congress is prepared to face the byelection to be held in Adampur," Mr. Hooda had told reporters here.

In the 90-member Haryana Assembly, the BJP has 40 MLAs and the Congress has 30 after Bishnoi's resignation.

The JJP, which is an ally of the BJP, has 10 legislators while the Indian National Lok Dal and the Haryana Lokhit Party have one each and seven are independents.

Earlier this year, the Congress had appointed Mr. Hooda loyalist Udai Bhan as its Haryana unit chief.

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