Uttarakhand Congress MLA Rajendra Singh Bhandari Joins BJP

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Uttarakhand Congress MLA Rajendra Singh Bhandari Joins BJP

Rajendra Bhandari represented the Badrinath seat in the Uttarakhand Assembly.

In a setback for the Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, its Uttarakhand MLA Rajendra Singh Bhandari joined the BJP here on Sunday and said that he was impressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership which motivated him to take the step.

Bhandari, a three-term Congress legislator who was also a minister in the state in the past, joined the BJP in the presence of its senior leaders, including Union Minister Piyush Goyal and the party’s national general secretary Dushyant Kumar Gautam.

Gautam is also the BJP’s in-charge for Uttarakhand.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and BJP chief spokesperson Anil Baluni, a Rajya Sabha member who will contest his first Lok Sabha election from the Garhwal seat in Uttarakhand, were also present on the occasion.

Bhandari, who is learnt to have resigned from the Congress before joining the BJP, represented the Badrinath seat in the Uttarakhand Assembly. He won the seat by defeating the BJP’s Uttarakhand unit chief Mahendra Bhatt by a small margin in the 2022 Assembly polls.

Badrinath is one of the 14 assembly segments which falls under the Garhwal Lok Sabha constituency from where the BJP’s Anil Baluni will contest the parliamentary election this time. Of these 14 assembly segments, Badrinath is the only seat which is with the Congress. The rest are with the BJP.

Addressing a press conference with the BJP leaders here, Bhandari said that he decided to join the ruling party after being impressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and the work done by his government for the country’s progress in the last 10 years.

“I am very much impressed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy for the welfare of the poor people. Under his leadership, a continuous journey of development is going on across the country. I want to contribute to making India a developed country by 2047, a goal set by Prime Minister Modi,” he told reporters at the BJP headquarters.

Bhandari expressed gratitude towards BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah as well as party chief J P Nadda for allowing him to serve the country as a party worker.

“I want to assure the party that I will work with complete dedication for the progress of the country and Uttarakhand, and serve the people as well,” he said.

“Baluni ji has been fielded as BJP candidate from Garhwal. He is a man with a clean image. I want to assure you that I will work day and night. I am confident that he will emerge victorious (in the Lok Sabha polls) with lakhs of votes,” Bhandari added.

Welcoming him to the BJP fold, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Dhami said Bhandari has joined the party as he was “impressed” by the work done in Badrinath and across Uttarakhand under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, be it the implementation of the Centre’s Char Dham project, redevelopment of Kedarnath and other development projects in the state.

Though there was already a “positive atmosphere” in favour of the BJP in Uttarakhand, it will get a further boost in the state, including in the Garhwal Lok Sabha constituency, with Bhandari joining the “BJP family”, Dhami said.

“We are going to win all five Lok Sabha seats in Uttarakhand with big margins,” he told reporters.

Piyush Goyal said Bhandari has been a “popular and influential” leader in Uttarakhand due to the work he did in various capacities. “For several years, he has served Badrinath and won the hearts of people. He was elected to the state assembly three times, which shows that his popularity and influence are still growing due to his work.” He hoped that Bhandari would continue to serve people with the same dedication while being with the BJP.

Goyal, who will contest his maiden Lok Sabha polls from Mumbai North, also highlighted the achievements of the Modi government and asserted that the BJP-led NDA will return to power for a third consecutive term at the Centre following the general elections.

Baluni expressed happiness over Bhandari joining the BJP and said it is a “special moment” for him.

“He is a sitting MLA from one of the 14 assembly segments under the (Garhwal) Lok Sabha constituency from where I have been fielded as the BJP candidate,” he said.

“Of the 14 assembly segments under Garhwal Lok Sabha constituency, 13 were already with the BJP. With Bhandari joining the BJP, the Congress now does not have any MLA there,” Baluni added. 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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