Ex-Congress MP and close Rajiv aide joins BSP

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Mumbai, Jan 5 (UNI) Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) keen to expand its mass base across the country got a shot in the arm in Maharashtra with former Congress MP Colonel Sudhir Sawant joining the party today.

Col Sawant, once considered close to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, was expelled from the Congress in November last year after he publicly criticised AICC general secretary Margaret Alva and her style of functioning.

Addressing a press conference here, Col Sawant, who had represented the Rajapur Lok Sabha constituency in 1991, said the BSP is a new platform providing an opportunity to all Indians to participate and rejuvenate the political process.

''Joining the BSP is like a home-coming to me. My father was a freedom fighter and a follower of Phule, Ambedkar and Shahu who were torch-bearers of equality and social justice in the society.'' he said.

Replying to questions on why he delayed taking decision on his future course of action, Col Sawant said his resignation as member of the Legislative council was accepted only on December 11. Besides, he had to consult his followers in Rajapur Parliamentary Constituency before taking the final decision.

Lauding the leadership of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, Col Sawant said she had risen from the grassroots and understands the pain of poverty and deprivation. ''Like Chhatrapati Shivaji, she gathered dedicated soldiers from all communities and emerged victorious. She has shown the path of resolving caste and class differences in India by giving reservation to economically weaker upper castes in private sector along with the backward classes. the BSP has integrated the interests of all communities and religions to create conditions for a healthy Indian society,'' he said.

He also vowed to make his new party a powerful instrument of change to emerge as a credible alternative to the BJP and the Congress.

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