Jaipur, Nov 5 (PTI) Girraj Malinga, Congress MLA from Bari in Rajasthan, joined the BJP here on Sunday in the presence of Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.
This came hours before the Congress released its seventh list of 21 candidates for the upcoming Rajasthan assembly polls and fielded Prashant Singh Parmar from Bari in Dholpur district.
Several Dalit organisations attacked the BJP for welcoming Malinga into the party fold, saying the saffron party has proved that its slogan against Dalit atrocities in Rajasthan is just an "election gimmick".
Malinga allegedly assaulted two engineers of the Electricity Department, one of whom is a Dalit, last year. The engineer who belongs to the Dalit community is still undergoing treatment at the SMS Hospital here.
A case was registered against Malinga and others in March last year in connection with the incident. The Bari MLA was arrested after he surrendered before the police commissioner in Jaipur.
After joining the BJP, Malinga claimed he was being harassed in the Congress and a false case was registered against him due to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's "pressure politics".
"In the engineers' assault case, an FIR was lodged and I was made an accused. There was politics in that too. When I demanded that the investigating officer be changed, the chief minister did not listen to me despite the fact that I was a Congress MLA," he said.
"I have joined the BJP today after seeing the policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and with a desire to work with the BJP's ideology," he said.
Reacting to Malinga joining the BJP, various Dalit organisations issued a joint statement, dubbing the BJP as an "anti-Dalit" party.
"The BJP has proved that it is an anti-Dalit party and is merely using Dalit issues for electoral gains while welcoming individuals linked to atrocities against Dalits (into the party fold)," said Bhanwar Meghwansi, a Dalit activist.
"By bringing Bari MLA Girraj Singh Malinga, who is accused of committing atrocities against Dalits, in the BJP, it has been proved that the BJP's slogan against Dalit atrocities in Rajasthan was just an election gimmick," said Satyaveer Singh, coordinator of Scheduled Caste Rights Campaign.
"If we study the increasing Dalit atrocities in the state, it will become clear that among the accused, the supporters of the ideology of BJP, RSS are playing a leading role in Dalit atrocities," the statement said.
In such a situation, the BJP cannot claim to be a Dalit-friendly party, it said.
Along with Malinga, other Congress leaders from Dholpur -- Mustaq Ahmed Khan, Ravi Pachauri, Deep Singh Kushwaha, Mangilal Sharma and Ramvaran Sharma -- also joined the BJP.
AAP's youth wing president Anurag Singh Brar also joined the BJP.
Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and BJP election management committee convenor Narayan Panchariya welcomed the leaders to the party.
Polling for the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly will be held on November 25 and votes will be counted on December 3. PTI SDA DIV DIV