Buoyed by the Congress's massive victory in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, three Hindi heartland states, several BJP leaders in Maharashtra are in talks to switch loyalty to the Rahul Gandhi-led party or the NCP, opposition leaders claimed on Thursday. The BJP on Tuesday faced its worst election losses since coming to power in 2014 with the Congress wrested three crucial states ahead of general elections next year.
Speaking to news agency PTI, NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said, "The atmosphere in the country is changing after the BJP's defeat in three states. The BJP is not going to win the 2019 (Lok Sabha) polls".
"In the last few days, several MPs and MLAs who had joined the BJP after quitting NCP or other parties (ahead of 2014 elections) are willing to join our party," Malik claimed.
Another NCP leader said the seat-sharing talks between the Sharad Pawar-led party and the Congress and others are yet to be concluded, and those ready to defect from the BJP might bag some such tickets.
"There are some seats where consensus has not been reached between the Congress and NCP. In case a suitable potential candidate crosses over to NCP from the BJP, we may field him/her from such a seat," the leader said, adding that there are at least eight Lok Sabha constituencies where talks are inconclusive.
There are reports that many of these disgruntled BJP leaders have been loggerheads with the party leadership as their as their ambitions have remained unfulfilled and their voice is not heard in the party.
Maharashtra BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhye, however, has dismissed the claim, saying "Nobody is leaving the party after the poll results. The party has broadened its base in Maharashtra and elsewhere over the past four years".
The Congress was poised on Wednesday to form governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, signalling a newfound energy in the party ranks and energizing opposition efforts to stop the BJP juggernaut before general elections next year.
Belying predictions of exit polls, the Congress won convincingly in Chattisgarh, less so in Rajasthan, and scraped through with a wafer-thin lead in Madhya Pradesh, final results showed after the vote count on Tuesday.