Former BJP leaders Ghanshyam Tiwari, Surendra Goyal and Janardan Singh Gehlot joined the Congress in the presence of party president Rahul Gandhi at an event of party workers here on Tuesday.
Twelve Independent MLAs were also inducted into the Congress as associate members after they agreed to support the ruling party in the Rajasthan Assembly.
Mr. Tiwari, a six-time BJP MLA and considered a hardliner, had rebelled against the then Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and floated the Bharat Vahini Party ahead of the 2018 Assembly elections. Mr. Goyal, a Minister in the previous Vasundhara Raje government, had resigned from the BJP after being denied ticket from Jaitaran constituency in the Assembly polls.
Mr. Gehlot, who was originally in the Congress, had resigned and joined the BJP in 2008 when he was denied party ticket from Karauli constituency. Jaipur Zila Pramukh Moolchand Meena and Jaipur Mayor Vishnu Lata also joined the Congress at the meeting of booth-level party workers, who were identified and trained for the Lok Sabha election campaign.
Welcoming the leaders into the party fold, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said nobody could have imagined that a BJP stalwart like Mr. Tiwari could join the Congress. “Mr. Tiwari has spent 50 years in Jan Sangh, RSS and BJP. One can understand the disquiet he must have felt in the Sangh Parivar, which has posed an existential threat to the country,” he said.
Mr. Tiwari, who had contested and lost from Jaipur’s Sanganer seat in the Assembly election, said he had felt that it was important to join Congress “at this juncture for the protection of democratic values”.
BSP leader Dungar Ram Gedar joined the Congress as a full-fledged member. The 12 MLAs who were given associate membership of the party are Suresh Tak, Baljeet Yadav, Kanti Prasad, Ramila Khadia, Rajkumar Gaur, Laxman Meena, Babulal Nagar, Alok Beniwal, Khushveer Singh, Ramkesh Meena, Mahadev Singh Khandela and Sanyam Lodha.