Ex-Union Minister, BSP leader join Cong

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Bangalore, Apr 6 (UNI) With elections to the dissolved Karnataka Assembly nearing, the Congress Party in the State today received a boost with the entry of former Union Minister Taradevi Siddhartha of JD(S) and Former BSP State President B Gopal.

The two Backward Class leaders joined the party in the presence of KPCC President Mallikarjuna Kharge and State Party-in-charge and Union Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

Former MP S B Sidnal and Former independent MLA Jayaprakash Hegde were the other prominent leaders who officially joined the party today.

Mr Kharge said JD(S) Leader and Former Union Minister C M Ibrahim's entry to the party had been cleared by the high command and the close associate of JD(S) President Deve Gowda would join the Congress shortly.

Mr Chavan said Congress in Karnataka was gaining in strength and the addition of BC leaders further reinforced the party's chances of returning to power on it own.

''There has been a realignment of secular forces in the State and Congress will stand to benefit from it,'' he said.

UNI RS GM SY RK1618

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