(Adding detail) Guwahati, Dec 29 (PTI) The ruling BJP got a boost ahead of the Assam assembly polls early next year, when former state minister and MLA Ajanta Neog along with two others joined the saffron party on Tuesday.
Besides Neog, another expelled Congress MLA Rajdeep Goala and former Bodoland Peoples' Front (BPF) lawmaker Banendra Mushahary switched over to the BJP in the presence of North East Democratic Alliance convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma and the saffron party's state unit president Ranjeet Dass.
Neog is a senior politician of the state who served as a minister in all the three cabinets of the veteran Congress leader Tarun Gogoi.
The crossing over of the three has come as a gain for the BJP which is making all efforts to retain power in the state.
On the other hand flight of MLAs has come as a setback for the Congress, which will be going to the polls without its tall leader Tarun Gogoi.
Octagenarian Gogoi died on November 23.
Congress had a strength of 24 MLAs in the 126-member Assam assembly, but now its number has come down to 20.
While Tarun Gogoi and former Speaker and Titabor MLA Pranab Goigoi died, Neog and Goala have crossed over to the BJP.
BJP has a total of 60 MLAs after death of its one legislator. It enjoys support of AGP having 13 members in the House and an Independent.
Assembly elections are due in Assam in March-April of 2021.
Neog said she joined the BJP with an 'open-mind and without any pre-condition' and promised to work with sincerity to realise the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party's state leadership.
Neog, who was a close confidante of former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, said she had entered into politics after her husband was killed by militants and served the people of the state and the Congress.
'Unfortunately, the party (Congress) which I served for so many years have distanced itself from the people and I was disheartened when I did not get the due respect,' she said.
Neog, who was elected from Golaghat constituency for four times, said she requested the BJP leaders to ensure that she gets the due respect in the party.
'It is a challenge to leave a home and enter another.
The feeling is the same as that of a woman entering her in- laws' house,' Neog said, adding that she decided to join the BJP for its 'futuristic vision' which, according to her, is necessary for a party.
Sarma said joining of the three prominent politicians of the state will boost the morale of the BJP and help meet its target of securing more than 100 seats in the 2021 assembly elections.
Assam BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass said Union Home Minister Amit Shah had advised the party's state unit to set up a screening committee to decide on the entry of members.
The panel has approved the induction of the three, he said.
Neog had met Shah during his recent visit to the state after she was expelled from the Congress.
She had also resigned as a member of the Assam assembly.
Goala, who was elected from Lakhipur constituency in Cachar district, was also expelled from the Congress in October for 'anti-party activities'.
Mushahary had lost from Gauripur assembly segment in Dhubri district in the 2016 elections. PTI DG BDC SNS SNS