In a major setback to the BJP, former Chief Minister BC Khanduri’s son Manish Khanduri is likely to join the Congress during a mega rally in Dehradun on March 16. News Nation has learnt that Khanduri junior has reached out to several BJP lawmakers in the state in a bid to solicit support for his crucial move. Manish Khanduri is known to be a close friend of Rahul Gandhi.
At present, Manish Khanduri is the 'Head of News Partnerships' at Facebook, India. A graduate of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Manish Khanduri helped CNN’s digital properties (CNN.com and CNN Mobile) strategize and execute a number of growth initiatives including the launch of one of the first citizen reporting tools developed by a news media company. He has worked in leadership positions in the media industry in India and the United States in the online, mobile, television and print platforms.
This move is seen as Congress' way of revamping its Brahmin game plane in the hill state. Khanduri Junior will not only bring the Brahmin votes to the party, it will also help Congress in appealing the elite class as well. Interestingly, BC Khanduri’s daughter Ritu Khanduri Bhushan had won on BJP ticket in 2017 Assembly Elections. Some sources say that Manish joining the Congress highlights the tussle within the family. When contacted, Ritu Khanduri Bhushan simply said, “Bhaiya se poochungi.” She neither confirmed nor denied the speculation over her brother joining the Congress.
The Uttarakhand BJP tried to downplay the news. State party president Ajay Bhatt told News Nation that, “Manish Khanduri was never a BJP member.”
As per the News Nation poll survey in the state, the BJP is projected to win 4 seats whereas the Congress may bag 1. The other parties may win one seat each in 2019 General Elections. As far as the vote share is concerned, the BJP is likely to get 42 per cent of vote share, the Congress may get 34 per cent of votes, and the other parties may get 7 per cent of vote share, predicted News Nation Opinion Poll.