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Cong Leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi Likely to Join BJP Ahead of UP Polls

Joshi had led the party in the last assembly polls in the state in which Congress came a poor fourth.

Sumit Pande, Pallavi Ghosh

Updated:October 17, 2016, 6:19 PM IST

Congress may face further desertions in its ranks ahead of Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections with former state president and MLA Rita Bahuguna Joshi likely to join Bharatiya Janata Party.

Sources close to her said Joshi is upset with the party for having projected an "outsider" in Sheila Dikshit as CM candidate.

Joshi had led the party in the last assembly polls in the state in which Congress came a poor fourth.

State BJP leaders when contacted said a final call on this has to be taken by the party's central leadership.

A top source in the Congress said, "We have no indication of her joining the BJP, but we will speak to her. She is a senior leader."

Elections to the state assembly are to be held early next year, and Congress has this time around projected former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, another Brahmin leader, as CM candidate.

Joshi who is an MLA from Lucknow Cantt seat would have faced a tough electoral battle this time around. She is up against SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's younger daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav. Lucknow Cantt is an urban seat and Joshi had wrested it from BJP in 2012.

Bahuguna's brother and former Uttarakhand CM Vijay Bahuguna had earlier this year defected from the Congress with nine MLAs in the hill state which led to the imposition of president's rule there.

Up against a formidable opposition, Joshi it was said was looking for options outside Congress.

Daughter of former Congress stalwart and UP CM Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna, Rita joined active politics when she was nominated by SP as its mayor candidate from Allahabad. She won that election but later quit SP to join Congress.

BJP in its efforts to mobilise upper caste votes in UP has been weaning away leaders from other parties. Last month BSP leader and former MP Brijesh Pathak joined the party.

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| Edited by: Mirza Arif Beg
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