Former BJP leader and Baharaich MP Savitri Bai Phule on Saturday joined the Congress party in presence of party chief Rahul Gandhi and general secretary of Uttar Pradesh east Priyanka Gandhi. General Secretary for UP west Jyotiraditya Scindia was also present when Phule was inducted into the party.
She had earlier met former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, days after once arch-rivals Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party announced their tie-up in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, sharing 38 seats each. Phule, who has often been critical of the BJP leadership, resigned from the party in December 2018, saying it was dividing society.
"I have resigned from the party. But I will continue as a Lok Sabha member till the end of my tenure," Phule had said.
However, she said she will complete her tenure as a Member of Parliament and won't quit the post.
"Desh ke chowikdar ki pehredari mein, sansadhono ki chori karai ja rahi hai (the country's resources are being looted under the watch of the country's gateman)," she had said in a derisive reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Phule also said she wanted to draw the country's attention towards the issue of reservations in promotion.
Known for her controversial statements, Phule has been attacking the BJP and its governments at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh for their alleged indifference to the concerns of Scheduled Castes.
Phule had said Lord Hanuman was "a Dalit and a slave of 'manuwadi' people", adding her voice to the row which erupted over UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's statement that the deity was a Dalit.
Asked about the Ram temple issue, pending in the Supreme Court, Phule said the BJP is raking up the matter as it has no other issues.
"The country does not need a temple. Will it end unemployment and other problems of Dalits and backwards? The temple will benefit Brahmins, who are only 3 per cent. The money offered in temples are used by them for their gains and make our community (Dalit) their slave," she had said.
Phule earlier also raised questions on BJP leaders dining at Dalit homes and termed Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, "a mahapurush" (great personality), causing embarrassment to her party.
With Agency Inputs