Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan on Thursday announced that he has joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, less than a month before the Lok Sabha elections begin. Vadakkan said he left the Congress because of its reaction to the Pulwama attack on February 14 in which 40 security personnel were killed.
Vadakkan claimed he could not have stayed on with the Congress after it questioned the integrity of the armed forces. “The attack by Pakistan-based terrorists on our land and the reaction from my party was sad indeed,” he said at a press conference also attended by BJP leaders Ravi Shankar Prasad, Rakesh Sinha and Anil Baluni. “It hurt me deeply when you question the integrity of the armed forces. It’s not about the ideology, it’s about love for the nation.”
Vadakkan, a close aide of United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, claimed he had no option but to leave the party as its political stand went against the interests of the nation. The senior leader claimed dynastic politics in the Congress had reached a zenith.
“A use-and-throw phenomenon has started, it is not acceptable for self-respecting workers of the party,” he said. No one knows who the power centres in the party are, he said.
Vadakkan thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, saying they had wished him good luck. He also commended Modi’s development narrative and programmes.
A week after the Pulwama attack, the Congress had accused the BJP of politicising the attack for electoral gains and invoking the bombing in rally speeches. The party had also criticised Modi for shooting for a film at Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand on the day of the terror attack. In a statement, the party said the prime minister was either “completely oblivious” or was insensitive as he continued with the shoot. The BJP, however, had dismissed the opposition party’s allegations as “fake news”.
The ruling party had also claimed that the Congress was trying to weaken the morale of the country and that of the armed forces in the aftermath of the attack.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh had also referred to the suicide attack as an “accident”, a comment that was criticised by several leaders in the ruling party.
Trinamool MLA also moves to BJP, gives similar reason
Meanwhile, Arjun Singh, a Trinamool Congress MLA in West Bengal, also joined the BJP on Thursday, in the presence of the party’s general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya in New Delhi. He also said he was shocked at Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s comments about the Pulwama attack, PTI reported.
“I gave 30 years to Mamata Banerjee,” Singh said. “I was shocked at her comments on the Pulwama terror attack. Her statement has shaken the country. When the Indian Air Force carried out the strike, she demanded the body count of terrorists. If a leader does not have national interest on her mind then she cannot do any good to her voters.”
Unidentified persons told PTI that Singh was upset for not getting an election ticket from the Trinamool Congress.
Singh was the second influential Trinamool Congress to switch to the BJP in three days. On Tuesday, expelled party MP Anupam Hazra had joined the BJP.