Vajpayee’s niece Karuna Shukla joins Congress

New Delhi, Feb 27: Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s niece and former BJP vice president Karuna Shukla Thursday joined the Congress, and hit out at the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for not fulfilling his obligations.

“Bharatiya Janata Party has declared such a person its prime ministerial candidate who did not fulfil his duty of husband, who did not adhere to ‘rajdharma’,” the 62-year-old Shukla told reporters.

She said if such a person talks of discharging “rashtra dharma” (duty to the nation), it was “dishonesty”.

Shukla was associated with the BJP for over three decades, having served the party in various capacities, including as chief of its women’s wing.

Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi underlined the symbolism of Shukla joining the party.

He said Shukla had the value system of a person who had worked in the BJP for long and had severed ties with it to join “an inclusive Congress”.

Shukla, who first became a legislator in 1993 in undivided Madhya Pradesh, was a senior BJP leader in Chhattisgarh.

She said the Vajpayee era has ended in the BJP and a “special group” now occupied it.

Describing the Congress as her new home, she said there were others in the BJP who were facing problems due to the “special group”.

A former parliamentarian, Shukla quit the BJP last year following unhappiness over the way the party was being run.

Several Congress leaders were present at the party office to announce Shukla’s joining the organisation.

Those present included general secretary B.K. Hariprasad, treasurer Motilal Vora, former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi and senior state leaders Bhupesh Baghel and T.S. Singh Dev.