Raipur: Barely a month before elections are scheduled to take place in the state of Chhattisgarh, Congress received a jolt on Saturday when the party's working president for the state - Ramdayal Uike - switched allegiance to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Uike is a four-time lawmaker from Pali and had been a prominent Adivasi leader for the Congress in the state. While he was made the party's working president in the state earlier this year, his most-recent move - switching to the BJP - has reportedly come as a major surprise in his erstwhile party with state party officials saying he had made no mention of joining another party. With elections scheduled in the state for November 12 and with Congress reportedly close to finalising its candidates, Uike's move could jolt a party looking to seize power from BJP.
The BJP though is hardly complaining. Uike was welcomed by national party chief Amit Shah and state CM Raman Singh.
The battle for Chattisgarh is expected to be a fierce contest with Raman Singh looking for his fourth consecutive term in office. He and his party have both dismissed suspicions that anti-incumbency could be a factor and while his government's work is being highlighted prominently, the fact that Mayawati ditched Congress in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh has further boosted morale in the BJP camp.