At a time when BJP is gearing up for selection of party candidates for five Lok Sabha seats in Uttarakhand, a state that was deemed a cake walk for the party, an unexpected jolt came from within as some prominent local leaders have decided to join the Congress and contest elections.
State BJP leader and former Uttarakhand Chief Minister BC Khanduri's son Manish Khanduri is reportedly joining Congress on Saturday (March 16) at a rally being addressed by Rahul Gandhi in Dehradun, confirmed sources close to the family. Local media reports have already suggested that some key BJP leaders are upset with the treatment meted out to them in recent past.
Manish Khanduri, who started his career as a business journalist, did his MBA from Kellogg in the US and worked as chief strategist with the multinational media company CNN, before returning home to work for his father's constituency. One Congress leader from Uttarakhand has also confirmed the news to Daily Pioneer. "Manish is a good friend of Rahul Gandhi and everyone knows that Khanduriji is sidelined in the BJP. Now Manish Khanduri would contest from Garhwal seat on a Congress ticket,'' he said.
It may be recalled that six months ago, BC Khanduri was removed as Chairman of the Defence Parliamentary Committee, soon after the panel report made known the genuine concerns of the Army over 68% of the outdated arms amid budget constraints. The removal of their leader did not go down well in his constituency - Pauri Garhwal, including his son Manish Khanduri, who is joining the Congress party on Saturday.
Gen BC Khanduri, a sapper (engineer in the army), was chosen by Atal Bihari Vajpayee to build national highways, and the man emerged as the architect of the famous Golden Quadrilateral that is now counted as the nation's proud achievements.
"My chief (PM) has told me to build roads, so I will do it," he used to tell media then. The project was completed despite numerous hurdles in the form of gurdwaras, mosques or temples on the way.
Also as the first BJP chief minister of Uttarakhand, his home state, he was the one to prepare hundreds of blueprints for the hill state's development though most of them have remained on paper, pending clearance from the Centre.