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BJP's Dausa MP Harish Meena, Nagaur MLA Rahman join Congress

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: November 14, 2018  | 19:10 IST

(Eds: Adding fresh details, quotes) New Delhi/Jaipur, Nov 14 (PTI) In a setback to Rajasthan's ruling BJP ahead of next month's assembly elections, the party's Dausa MP Harish Chandra Meena and Nagaur MLA Habibur Rahman joined the Congress on Wednesday. Meena, a former director general of police, joined the Congress in the presence of former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sachin Pilot and AICC's state in-charge Avinash Pande in New Delhi. In Jaipur, BJP's Nagaur MLA Rahman returned to the Congress after a decade in the presence Ajmer MP Raghu Sharma and other leaders at the party office. "I am happy that Harish Meena has decided to join the Congress in such times. I welcome him in the Congress fold," Gehlot said at a press conference about the new entrant who had served as DGP when he was chief minister. Pilot and Gehlot said they will contest the December 7 polls for the 200-member assembly along with other senior leaders of the state. "We are all united. It is BJP's conspiracy to spread false news that the Congress is divided," Gehlot said. Pilot also said the entire Rajasthan Congress was united and hoped Meena joining the party will help it throw BJP out in the state. Meena said he had joined unconditionally and would abide by the party decision on whether or not he should contest the elections. Rahman echoed him. "I have returned home today. There is no condition for joining the party," he said at a press conference in the Rajasthan capital. On whether he will contest the Assembly elections, Rahman rhetorically asked, "Who does not want to contest elections?" Pilot attacked Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, saying she had betrayed the trust of the people of the state. He said the tension was evident in the BJP camp with many senior leaders sidelined and not given tickets, showing that "all is not well". Asked why the Congress had not declared a chief ministerial face before the elections, Gehlot said this had never been done in Rajasthan. Pilot said Meena belongs to a family of Congress members and had joined the party without any conditions. In 2014, Harish Meena defeated his elder brother and senior Congress leader Namonarain Meena from the Dausa Lok Sabha seat. Namonarain Meena came third in the electoral contest. Harish Meena defeated his nearest rival Kirori Lal Meena, who was then a candidate of National People's Party and is now a BJP Rajya Sabha MP, by a margin of 45,404 votes. Slamming Harish Meena for joining the Congress, Kirori Meena termed him an "opportunist" and claimed that this would not have any impact on the saffron party's performance in the state election. Hitting back, Congress' Raghu Sharma said, "Kirori Meena's wife Golma Devi was a minister in the previous Congress government. He contested the 2013 assembly polls as the candidate of National People's party and then joined the BJP. He became Rajya Sabha MP and now his wife was given ticket by BJP in its first list. He is the finest example of an opportunist." Sharma added that the party will release its list of candidates for the Rajasthan polls only after the final approval of party president Rahul Gandhi. Rahman was initially a member of the Congress and was a state minister between 2001 and 2003 during the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government. He joined the BJP in 2008 after he was denied a ticket by the Congress. He won the 2008 and the 2013 Assembly elections as a BJP candidate. But Rahman left the ruling party when it denied him a poll ticket this time and nominated Mohan Ram Choudhary from Nagaur. PTI SKC SDA ASK SKC MIN MIN

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