Vadakkan, a shot in the arm for BJP
In a big jolt to the Congress and what came as a surprise to many, long-time Congress leader and party spokesperson Tom Vadakkan joined the BJP in presence of Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday.
A Roman Catholic from Kerala, Vadakkan's entry is likely to bolster the saffron party's minority push in the southern state.
Welcoming him into the party, Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "He has decided to join us as he was tired of Congress policies and impressed with the BJP." Vadakkan said, "I left Congress with a heavy heart. The attack by Pakistani terrorists on our land and the reaction from 'my party' was sad indeed. It hurts me deeply when you question the integrity of the armed forces. That's precisely why I am here. This isn't about ideology, but love for the nation."
Sources within the BJP said they were in touch with the former Sonia aide for close to one and a half years but it was only late last evening that Vadakkan gave the nod to come on board. His entry into the saffron fold was kept completely confidential until he reached the BJP headquarters to face the media on Thursday.
Vadakkan, it is said, had been feeling sidelined within the Congress for a long time, especially working with the current media in-charge Randeep Surjewala. Vadakkan's exit that took even the Congress by surprise. Surjewala said: "Whenever someone leaves, they have to say something. Hope the media asks Ravi Shankar Prasad about everything Vadakkan has said against PM Narendra Modi. On the issue of armed forces, he himself has raised questions.
Speaking to India Today TV, Vadakkan said, "As spokespersons, we are given scripts that we are supposed to toe. There are many things we say that we don't agree with. Earlier, we used to consult within a media committee in the Congress and decide what will be our line. Now, a few people simply decide the line without any consultation. I had had enough."
When asked if Rahul Gandhi's style of functioning had anything to do with his exit, Vadakkan said: "There are issues of being able to express yourself in the party. I gave 20 years of my prime to the Congress. But dynastic politics reached its zenith. We don't understand the power dynamics anymore. There was 'use and throw', which is not good for any self-respecting worker."
Reports suggest that since the 2009 general elections Vadakkan has been seeking a Congress ticket from Thrissur in Kerala but has been unsuccessful due to resistance from the local unit, who see him as an outsider in the state. It is unclear though if the BJP has promised him the same.