Hundreds of members of the Aam Aadmi Party, including office-bearers, joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Gujarat at the party headquarters in Gandhinagar on Wednesday, days ahead of AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal and newly-appointed Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann's visit to Ahmedabad where a roadshow is planned.
Local AAP leaders rubbished the crossover as a "sham," saying that barring a few of its suspended members, the others who joined the BJP were never associated with the Arvind Kejriwal-led party.
At a function held at state BJP headquarter 'Kamalam' in the presence of Gujarat unit chief CR Paatil, hundreds of people took off their 'AAP caps' and wore saffron ones, the BJP said. Paatil welcomed several of them with saffron scarves.
A large number of office-bearers of AAP and the party members from 11 districts of Gujarat joined the BJP at the party headquarters on Wednesday, the BJP said in a release.
A leader of Akhandwadi Rashtrawadi Sevadal and his supporters also joined the saffron party, it said.
"These people have seen how our prime minister is working for the development and security of the country and upliftment of the common man. They approached the BJP to join the party, and today they were inducted," said senior BJP leader Rajni Patel.
A man claimed that he was the president of a taluka minority morcha of AAP and joined BJP on Wednesday. He said the AAP had not suspended him.
"The AAP is a party rife with corruption. Positions are offered in AAP to only those who offer money, which I do not like. This is the reason I have decided to formally quit AAP," he claimed.
Another man said that if hundreds of people are opposing the policies of AAP then it means something is wrong.
After registering a spectacular performance in Punjab polls, the AAP is now eyeing Gujarat, the stronghold of BJP and home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where elections are due in December this year.
Kejriwal and Mann are expected to hold a roadshow in Ahmedabad on April 2.
An AAP office-bearer claimed that those who joined the BJP on Wednesday were members of the saffron party who were falsely presented as belonging to AAP at the BJP function.
AAP general secretary Manoj Sorathiya rubbished the BJP's claim and said that the ruling party is scared of the AAP's emergence in the politics of Gujarat ahead of polls.
He said AAP is gearing up to contest all the 182 seats in Gujarat.
"The BJP is scared of AAP. We saw only four to five of our members who were officially suspended from AAP earlier, joining the BJP at the function today. On joining of other members, BJP is playing a drama," he said.
Sorathiya dared BJP to prove that those who joined the saffron party were members of AAP.
The AAP made an entry into BJP-ruled Gujarat last year by winning 27 seats in the Surat municipal corporation.