Ramkishna Kusmaria, the former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP and senior Madhya Pradesh leader, on Friday joined the Congress in the presence of party chief Rahul Gandhi in Bhopal. Kusmaria was the member of Lok Sabha from Damoh constituency of Madhya Pradesh from 1991 to 1999 and went on to win Khajuraho seat in Lok Sabha elections 2014. He also served as an agriculture minister in the state.
Earlier, speculations had been rife that Kusmaria was offered a Congress ticket for the upcoming General Elections from the Bundelkhand region. With Kusmaria and several other senior leaders leaving the party, the BJP is facing a lot of trouble in Madhya Pradesh. Those leaders include another BJP dissident and former chief minister Babulal Gaur, Sartaj Singh, Kusum Mehdele and Raghunandan Sharma among others.
Sartaj Singh, who had been at logger heads with the BJP leadership in Madhya Pradesh, joined the Congress ahead of the 2018 Assembly elections in the state. However, Singh lost the Hoshangabad seat to the BJP candidate in Madhya Pradesh Assembly Elections 2018.
There were also reports that Kusmaria was instrumental in the defeats of two BJP candidates in the Damoh and Pathariya seats in recently concluded Madhya Pradesh assembly elections. He was also congratulated by Chief Minister Kamal Nath after BJP's rout in the Bundelkhand region of the state.
In December, the Congress emerged as the single largest party in the state, managing a wafer-thin majority with the BJP. While the Congress has bagged 114 seats in the state, the BJP, in a tantalising see-saw battle with the grand-old party managed to get 109 seats. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) won two seats and the Samajwadi Party (SP) one. Independents bagged four seats.
The BJP lost the Hindi heartland state after 15 years of power since 2003. Shivraj Singh Chouhan was the chief minister of the state between 2005 and 2018. However, the BJP's vote share was more than the Congress in the state Assembly elections.