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Cong' Dalit face Krishna Tirath joins BJP ahead of polls

Tirath (59) became the third prominent personality in the recent days to join BJP after Kiran Bedi and Shazia Ilmi.

Her joining BJP comes amidst the party's efforts to woo Dalit voters of the capital to boost its prospects in the February 7 polls.

Delhi has 12 reserved seats of which a majority were won by the AAP in the last assembly polls in 2013. BJP won only two while Congress got one.

During the ongoing electioneering, Shah had started his poll campaign by addressing a dalit rally.

Tirath, who had served as a minister in Delhi government and later as a union minister in the Manmohan Singh government, was welcomed in the BJP fold by its chief Amit Shah with a bouquet of flowers.

She was accompanied by incharge of party affairs in Delhi Prabhat Jha and city unit BJP president Satish Upadhyay.

Explaining why she was switching the party, Tirath said, "It is a question of ideology. I met BJP President Amit Shah to serve the people.... I have come with this aim."

Tirath was a member of Delhi Legislative Assembly between 1984?2004 and MP from North West Delhi constituency from 2004 till 2014.

On what would be her role in the BJP, she said the party chief will decide that and added, "My role will be towards public service."

Congress appeared to be taken aback by Tirath's move to desert the party. Reports of her meeting Shah to join BJP reached AICC headquarters when AICC general secretary Ajay Maken was releasing a booklet "exposing" Aam Aadmi Chief Arvind Kejriwal.

A senior Congress leader said on the condition of anonymity that Tirath was trying hard for a ticket from the Patel Nagar constituency but was denied the ticket by party.

Maken said it showed the "nervousness and desperation" of BJP which is ready to bring any leader in the party fold ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally evoked a "lukewarm" response.

"They have to import leaders from other parties because they have no faith in their own leaders," he said.

Tirath is the third high profile woman to have joined the BJP in the past week. Earlier, former IPS officer Kiran Bedi and ex-AAP leader Shazia Ilmi joined BJP.

BJP welcomed Tirath's move with party's national secretary Shrikant Sharma saying, "leaders of other parties are inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's agenda of development and want to see that Delhi develops as a world-class city. That is why they are joining BJP."

Meanwhile, other Congress leaders sought to downplay the development.

A party leader said Tirath was not given the ticket as the rank and file in the constituency was against her.

The party was aware of Tirath being in touch with BJP leaders but thought that it was more as a pressure tactic, the Congress leader said.

Congress has renominated sitting MLA Rajesh Lilothia from the seat.

The leader said the party had given much to Tirath in the last few decades as she was an MLA, an MP and a Minister of state with Independent charge in the UPA-II.

Suggesting that Tirath had been ungrateful to the party, the Congress leader said the former Union Minister would not have taken such a decision if the Congress was not in a position to offer her some post following the denial of nomination.
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