'Kicked' by BJP, Udit Raj lands in Rahul's hand

New Delhi, April 24: Udit Raj, the BJP MP who on Wednesday jumped ship to the Congress, hit out at the saffron party, claiming that he was denied a ticket because he took stand on many issues against the party lines.The sitting MP from North West Delhi was denied a ticket for the Lok Sabha elections by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which fielded singer Hans Raj Hans from the reserved seat."Congress President Rahul Gandhi welcomes Udit Raj into the Congress party," the Congress tweeted.Addressing a press conference at the party office after joining the Congress, Raj said: "The BJP carried out internal surveys by various agencies of all the seven seats in Delhi. And out of the seven Lok Sabha constituencies, the only positive feedback came from my seat. "But I was denied a ticket as I took stand on issues against the party lines and because I was not deaf and dumb. I took a stand on the SC/ST Act and supported the Bharat Band called last year."Raj also expressed his gratitude to Rahul Gandhi for allowing him to join the Congress.Taking a pot shot at the BJP, Raj said: "On May 20, 2014, (President) Ram Nath Kovind came to me with his bio-data. BJP's SC/ST Morcha leader Vivek Sonkar is a witness to that meeting. He (Kovind) had asked me to help him get a proper position in the party."The BJP did not think him fit though Kovind was planning to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. However, he was made the President as he remained silent. If I too remained silent, they (BJP) would have made me the Prime Minister some day."Delhi Congress chief and three-time Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said that Raj joining the party would help the Congress in the elections on all the seven seats of the national capital.Earlier in the day, in a series of tweets, Raj said: "It was nice to speak to senior BJP leader Kalraj Mishra. He was saddened over denial of ticket to me."Raj said he would not have felt so bad had he been informed about being denied the ticket. "Why did the party declare the name on the last day of filing nomination," he asked. 

Earlier, Denied a ticket, BJP Lok Sabha member Udit Raj attacked the party, saying candidates are being chosen on the basis of "some inscrutable internal standards" while ignoring the hard work of aspirants.A "hurt" Dalit leader, who had merged his Indian Justice Party with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014, expressed his anguish after he was dropped as a candidate for the May 12 polls and replaced by Punjabi singer Hans Raj Hans for the North West Delhi Lok Sabha seat."Entire India thinks that BJP offers tickets based on hard work, honesty and capability. It appears this is not the truth. The decision to offer the ticket or deny it is based on some inscrutable internal standards," the 58-year-old said in a statement.A former Indian Revenue Service officer, Udit Raj resigned from service and formed the Indian Justice Party in 2003. He contested the 2014 election on a BJP ticket and won.He said he felt "deeply hurt" that he was not even given a chance to defend himself."The entire experience of the ticket denial was not graceful. I was not taken into confidence and that left me feel like an orphan today," Udit Raj said.He said he realised that many smaller regional parties have benefited more by remaining Independent.The MP said a number of things came to his mind about why he was denied a BJP ticket.He said he wondered if it was his fault that he was a senior Dalit leader. "Doesn't the BJP want a leader who has been chosen by Dalits themselves?"He added: "In the presence of PM Modi, I had raised a question in Parliament: is Supreme Court against Dalits and poor? Was it my fault to speak on their behalf?"He also asked if taking out a rally against Supreme Court for sealing was an error."Are these the reasons for ticket denial? I deeply regret that BJP is hurting me," he said."All BJP workers know that the party engaged four agencies for a performance survey of MPs. I topped in all surveys," Udit Raj claimed."When these endorse my performance and capability, then why was ticket denied to me? What is the criteria?" he said.Udit Raj had removed the prefix "Chowkidar" from his Twitter handle but it was later restored.Sources close to him said the prefix was restored "mistakenly" by a staff member and he is likely to quit the BJP in the next few days and join an opposition party.

IANS/ (With inputs from agencies)