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Uttarakhand minister Yashpal Arya, his MLA son join Congress

NEW DELHI: In a jolt to the BJP ahead of the next year’s Uttarakhand assembly polls, state transport minister Yashpal Arya quit the saffron party on Monday and returned to the Congress along with his MLA son Sanjeev.

Yashpal Arya was the president of Uttarakhand Congress from 2007 to 2014. He had switched over to the BJP in 2017 ahead of the last assembly elections in Uttarakhand.

Arya and his son along with their supporters, joined the Congress in the presence of senior party leaders Harish Rawat, K C Venugopal and Randeep Surjewala at the party headquarters in the national capital.

Earlier in the day, they met former Congress president Rahul Gandhi at his residence.

“It is an important day for me as I have returned to my family. It is my ”ghar wapsi”. There can”t be a happier day for me. I feel relieved after my return,” Arya said soon after joining the Congress.

Arya represents the Bajpur (SC) assembly constituency in the state. He earlier represented the Mukteshwar assembly constituency. He is a former speaker and was a minister in the Congress government led by Harish Rawat.

Arya said he will work selflessly to strengthen the party.

“If the Congress emerges stronger, then democracy will be strengthened further,” he said.

Arya said he started his political life in the Congress and has been Youth Congress president, twice Uttarakhand Congress president and then the Speaker of the first Uttarakhand assembly in his 40 year-long political life.

Arya has been a six-time MLA, including twice from Uttar Pradesh when Uttarakhand was part of it.

Welcoming him into the party fold, Surjewala said Arya has played a significant role in the uplift of Scheduled Castes in both Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. He said Arya has sent his resignation to the state Governor.

His son Sanjeev Arya represents the Nainital Assembly constituency in Uttarakhand. He has also resigned from his MLA seat. He is involved in the cooperatives sector in the state.

Another BJP leader Harinder Singh Laddi, who had earlier been the vice chief Uttarakhand”s Irrigation Advisory Committee, also joined the Congress.

Rawat said they felt pain when Arya had to leave the Congress for some reason. He is today joining back at a time when the party is fighting several challenges, he said. Venugopal said it is a homecoming for both of them to the Congress. They met Rahul Gandhi and said they were happy to return to their old family, he said.

“This is one of the happiest moments for the Congress party as Yashpal Arya and Sanjeev Arya have decided to join the Congress, giving a clear-cut indication of coming elections in Uttarakhand…The wind is in favour of the Congress in Uttarakhand,” he said.

Rahul Gandhi told them their entry into the Congress will definitely strengthen the Congress, he said.

AICC in-charge for Uttarakhand Devendra Yadav and PCC president Ganesh Godiyal and CLP leader Pritam Singh were also present and welcomed the return of the father-son duo into the Congress.

Source: Press Trust of India

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