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Senior Congress leader in Telangana DK Aruna joined the BJP early on Wednesday in another setback to the opposition party ahead of the Lok Sabha election.

The Congress in Telangana has already lost as many as eight MLAs who have crossed over to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in the state.

Aruna, who has represented the Gadwal assembly constituency thrice, met BJP president Amit Shah in New Delhi after midnight and was formally admitted into the party. She was accompanied by Bharatiya Janata Party’s general secretary Ram Madhav, who was instrumental in convincing her to join the ruling party at the Centre.

“There is no hope of the Congress regaining its glory in Telangana and in the given circumstances, the BJP is the only party that can fulfil the aspirations of the people,” she said.

The 59-year-old leader, who was associated with the Congress party since her childhood, is most likely to be the BJP candidate for Mahbubnagar parliamentary constituency. She had earlier declined the Congress party’s offer of the party ticket for the same seat.

Known as “Queen of Gadwal,” the firebrand leader is known for her aggressive politics.

Her father Chittem Narsi Reddy, a former Congress minister, was killed by Maoists along with her brother while he was hoisting the national flag on Independence Day in 2005 at Narayanpet in the erstwhile Mahbubnagar district.

Her younger brother Ch Rammohan Reddy was a Congress MLA, but he later defected to the TRS and got re-elected in the recent assembly elections.

Aruna’s husband DK Bharata Simha Reddy was a Telugu Desam Party MLA but joined the Congress party and her brother-in-law DK Samarasimha Reddy is a veteran Congress leader and was a minister. Her father-in-law DK Satya Reddy was also a first-time MLA and minister in the post-independence era.

Aruna, who won the assembly elections for three consecutive terms since 2004, served as the information and public relations minister in the last cabinet of the undivided Andhra Pradesh.

During the recent assembly elections, she was seen as the chief ministerial candidate, but she lost to the TRS, like many other senior Congress leaders.

The 17 parliamentary seats in Telangana will vote in the second round of the seven-phase Lok Sabha election on April 18. The result will be declared on May 23.

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