Raj Kumar Verka quits BJP to rejoin Congress; Balbir Sidhu, Gurpreet Kangar follow suit
These leaders, along with some others from Punjab, met Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal in New Delhi late on Friday
Senior Punjab BJP leaders Raj Kumar Verka, Balbir Singh Sidhu and Gurpreet Kangar have decided to return to the Congress while some leaders from the SAD are also expected to follow suit.
These leaders, along with some others from Punjab, met Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal in New Delhi late on Friday, the Congress' Punjab unit chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring said in a late-night post on X.
"Various senior leaders from Punjab, including former cabinet ministers Balbir Sidhu ji and Gurpreet Kangar ji, former MLA Raj Kumar Verka ji, Mohinder Rinwa ji, Hans Raj Joshan ji and Jit Mohinder Sidhu ji ... have expressed their desire to join @INCIndia in the presence of AICC General Secretary In-charge @kcvenugopalmp ji," Warring said.
"They will be formally inducted into the party fold in Punjab in the presence of senior @INCPunjab leadership," he added.
Earlier in the day, Verka -- a prominent Dalit leader from Amritsar -- said he had decided to quit the BJP and would join the Congress, calling it "ghar wapsi".
Verka, Sidhu and Kangar were ministers in the previous Congress dispensation before switching to the BJP in June 2022.
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders Joshan and Rinwa quit the Congress in 2021 to join the party. Jit Mohinder Sidhu was also associated with the SAD.
Verka was among several Congress leaders who switched over to the BJP during the past year. Sunil Jakhar, the BJP's Punjab unit chief, had also defected from the Congress.
In Amritsar, Verka told reporters, "I have decided that I am leaving the BJP. I am resigning from the party and going to Delhi now and will join the Congress." Replying to another question, he said it is a "ghar wapsi".
"I made a mistake by joining the BJP but now I'm going to rectify it," Verka said.
When asked why had taken the decision, Verka said there were some reasons behind the step.
"Kuch toh majbooriyan rahi hongi, yu hi toh koi bewafa nahi hota," he said.
The entire nation is seeing that the country can be secure in the hands of the Congress and if any party can take along all sections, all religions, it is the Congress, he added.
"Unlike the Congress, the BJP has not been able to accommodate all sections of society," he further said.
When asked if he met Rahul Gandhi during the Congress leader's recent Amritsar visit, Verka said, "I don't want to say anything on this but I will say I had a word with the (Congress) high command." Verka, a prominent Dalit leader from the Majha region, is a three-time legislator and was the minister for social justice and empowerment and minorities in the previous Congress government.
He served as the vice-chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes for two terms.