Dehradun: Satpal Maharaj, spiritual guru and former Congress MP who switched his loyalty to BJP, has alleged that he was denied higher responsibilities in Congress as the party considered him a "Hindu face".
Maharaj, who joined BJP in 2014 soon after Harish Rawat became Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, alleged that Congress is "looking at people as Hindu and Muslim face" and "neither honouring nor respecting" its workers who are loyal to them.
He said Congress leadership chose to ignore his "seniority and capabilities" and gave major posts to Rawat.
"I was told in Congress that I am a Hindu face. You must have seen that Harish Rawat was made the minister at the Centre, then chief minister after Vijay Bahuguna was removed...He was also made state party president. You gave him everything. What about the other leaders.
"When I took up the matter, they (senior leaders) told me that they wanted to give Maharaj higher responsibilities as he is an asset.
They said how to make Maharaj (the chief minister) as he is a Hindu face. Congress was taking me as a Hindu face. I thought I cannot change the face but can definitely change the party," Maharaj told PTI.
"We are human beings and want to serve the nation. You have to give important responsibility to someone. After I joined BJP, they told me you go to Rajya Sabha. What are these things? We don't yearn for such things. You are not honouring nor respecting people," he said.
Exuding confidence that BJP will win over 45 seats in the 70-member Uttarakhand assembly, he claimed that people in the state want "change" which could only be possible if BJP comes to power and there is better coordination between the state government and the Centre.
"There was transformation in the entire country but there was no change here as it was a Congress ruled state. People want the works to be done in the state as being done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre.
"There must be coordination between the state and central governments. To make it possible, people want change and want BJP government in Uttarakhand," he said.
On his wife and former forest minister Amrita Rawat not getting the nod from higher command for Ramnagar seat, he said," I want to clarify that I had never asked for ticket for my wife. I accept that there should be one person from a family to contest the election. I asked for one ticket which I got for Chaubattakhal."
Maharaj is contesting the assembly election from his home turf Chaubattakhal, a decision which had upset former BJP state president and sitting MLA from there Tirath Singh Rawat who had expressed his discontent over allocation of ticket to the Congress rebel.