Man responsible for Vajpayee govt’s fall set to join BJP

NEW DELHI (TIP): Former Odisha CM Giridhar Gamang, whose controversial vote during the 1999 no-confidence motion had contributed to the fall of Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government after thirteen months in office, on June 12 decided to join BJP.

In fact, both BJP and Gamang put the past behind and embraced each other as the former Congress leader met BJP chief Amit Shah at the party headquarters. Gamang said he likes BJP’s “political strategy”. He had quit Congress on May 30.

Gamang was caught up in a controversy in Parliament on April 17, 1999, when the 13-month Vajpayee government fell as he voted despite having become the chief minister of Odisha by then. Since Gamang, who was then MP from Koraput, had not resigned from Lok Sabha even two months after becoming CM, it was left to his conscience to decide whether to vote. He voted, much against protests from BJP MPs.

However BJP tried to bury the issue saying Gamang voted against the BJP-led NDA government and then he was part of Congress. On his part, Gamang had argued that it was National Conference’s Saifuddin Soz whose cross-voting led to the NDA’s defeat on the floor of the House. He also recalled that Mayawati’s BSP, which had five members in Lok Sabha, made a last minute change in stand and instead of abstaining, voted against the government. The BJP leadership is to formally welcome the 72-year-old tribal leader in Bhubaneshwar. The party hopes Gamang’s entry will strengthen its base in Odisha.

“I have decided to join the BJP, but I will join formally soon. It will be decided by the state unit soon. I had met the Amit Shah today and made my plea which has been accepted by the party leadership,” Gamang said.

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