New Delhi: In a jolt to the BJP ahead of the next year’s Uttarakhand assembly polls, state transport minister Yashpal Arya quit the saffron party on Monday and returned to the Congress along with his MLA son Sanjeev. Yashpal Arya was the president of Uttarakhand Congress from 2007 to 2014. He had switched over to the BJP in 2017 ahead of the last assembly elections in Uttarakhand.
Arya and his son along with their supporters, joined the Congress in the presence of senior party leaders Harish Rawat, KC Venugopal and Randeep Surjewala at the party headquarters in the national capital.
Earlier on Monday, they had met former Congress president Rahul Gandhi at his residence.
“It is an important day for me as I have returned to my family. It is my ‘ghar wapsi’. There can’t be a happier day for me. I feel relieved after my return,” Arya said soon after joining the Congress.
Arya represents the Bajpur (SC) assembly constituency in the state. He earlier represented the Mukteshwar assembly constituency. He is a former speaker and was a minister in the Congress government led by Harish Rawat.
Arya said he will work selflessly to strengthen the party.
“If the Congress emerges stronger, then democracy will be strengthened further,” he said.
Arya said he started his political life in the Congress and has been Youth Congress president, twice Uttarakhand Congress president and then the Speaker of the first Uttarakhand assembly in his 40 year-long political life.
Another BJP leader Harinder Singh Laddi, who had earlier been the vice chief Uttarakhand’s Irrigation Advisory Committee, also joined the Congress.
AICC in-charge for Uttarakhand Devendra Yadav and PCC president Ganesh Godiyal and CLP leader Pritam Singh were also present and welcomed the return of the father-son duo into the Congress.
Arya has been a six-time MLA, including twice from Uttar Pradesh when Uttarakhand was part of it.
His son Sanjeev Arya represents the Nainital Assembly constituency in Uttarakhand. He has also resigned from his MLA seat. He is involved in the cooperatives sector in the state.
Yashpal Arya’s interests may have come to the fore
Reacting to Uttarakhand Transport Minister Yashpal Arya’s exit from the BJP, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said the leader’s personal interests may have come to the fore.
“Where has anyone been able to stop the one who goes, if you have gone, there is no one to stop,” he further said.