In a setback to Congress in Uttarakhand, its MP from Garhwal Satpal Maharaj joined Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday, saying the country needed strong leadership.
Maharaj, who is a spiritual leader with considerable following in the region, accused Congress of ignoring the plight of victims of the natural tragedy in the state last year.
The leader, whose wife is a Cabinet Minister in the Congress government in Uttarakhand, said he wanted Narendra Modi to become the prime minister as a strong leadership was the need of the hour for the country.
BJP President Rajnath Singh said Maharaj's presence in the party will strengthen it further, adding that it indicated people's faith in Modi's leadership and frustration with the current regime.
Maharaj attacked the Uttarakhand government, accusing it of doing nothing for the victims of floods and said people were leaving the hills for the plains in search of livelihood.
“People are suffering and nothing has been done for them. Hills are in danger as people are relocating to plains for making a living,” he said.
He was said to be unhappy with the Congress for picking Harish Rawat as the state's chief minister and had recently announced that he would not contest the Lok Sabha election as he was "deeply hurt" by the neglect of his constituency.
The 62-year-old leader has been with Congress all along barring a few years in 90s when he joined the breakaway Congress (Tiwari).
Image: Satpal Maharaj