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Congress candidate joins BJP

Bhopal, March 9: A Congress candidate for the Lok Sabha poll today joined the BJP, leaving a trail of red faces in the party’s Madhya Pradesh unit.

Bhagirath Prasad, a retired IAS officer, was named Congress nominee from Bhind last evening. According to senior leaders including Mohan Prakash, the AICC general secretary in charge of Madhya Pradesh, Prasad’s consent was taken before the announcement.

But by noon today, Prasad, a former vice chancellor of Indore University, was sitting next to Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and finding virtue in the BJP and its Prime Minister candidate, Narendra Modi.

Prasad is perceived to be close to AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh. In 2009, Prasad had contested from Bhind and lost.

Prasad told reporters today: “After remaining in the Congress since then, I realised there is no situation in the party (Congress) where you can serve the people the way you want. It has a lot of divisions,” he said, trying to justify his sudden switch.

“The welfare of people is possible only through this (BJP) party under the leadership of Narendra Modi and Shivraj Singh Chouhan.”

Madhya Pradesh BJP chief Narendra Singh Tomar said a decision on giving Prasad a ticket to contest from Bhind would be taken only after a meeting of the party’s election committee on March 12.

State Congress chief Arun Yadav dubbed Prasad a “fraud”. “I think there is a big money deal with BJP. Yes, I am alleging he has taken money from BJP.”

Hailing from the weaker sections, Prasad has a formidable image of a disciplined bureaucrat. Married to Hindi writer Mehrunnisa Parvez, he is a well-known figure in Madhya Pradesh literary and social circles.