Hassan: Miffed Congress leader and former minister A. Manju is all set to rejoin the BJP on Sunday-a party he severed ties with in 2004 and joined the Congress party. With his re-entry into the saffron fold, Manju is tipped to take on JD(S) nominee Prajwal Revanna in the Hassan Lok Sabha seat.
Those close to Manju confirmed that his joining the BJP is now a mere formality after State BJP chief B.S. Yeddyurappa gave the green signal for his re-entry. Manju is unhappy with the Congress for conceding both the Hassan and Mandya Lok Sabha seats to the JD(S) and had demanded that one of the seats be given to Congress nominees.
With that not happening, he decided to take the drastic step of quitting the Congress and returning to the BJP. He was elected to the Assembly on a BJP ticket from Arakalgudu in 1999.
Manju had unsuccessfully fought against JD(S) nominee and former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda in the 2014 Lok Sabha poll in Hassan on a Congress ticket. Though he lost, he was able to narrow down the victory margin of Mr Gowda considerably.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha election, Mr Deve Gowda had romped home by a margin of 2.91 lakh votes which came down to just a lakh votes against Manju who also lost the 2018 assembly election in Arakalgudu to JD(S) nominee A.T. Ramaswamy.
Manju is a bitter critic of the Deve Gowda family especially Minister for Public Works H.D. Revanna and both leaders have attacked each other verbally in the past.
Explaining the reason for re-inducting Manju into the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha poll, a BJP leader explained "there is little time left for us to look for options and Manju is an automatic choice to fight the JDS-Congress alliance in Hassan." He added that Manju is a familiar face in the constituency.
Meanwhile, Manju held a meeting with his supporters in Arakalgudu on Thursday and after the meeting, told Deccan Chronicle that he has been authorized to take a decision and his supporters will abide by it. Interestingly, Manju's son Manthar Gowda, a Congress Zilla Panchayat member did not attend the meeting.