Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Thursday criticised former party colleague Jitin Prasada for joining the Bharatiya Janata Party and ruled out the possibility of him following suit, ANI reported.

“I am not against what Jitin Prasada did as there must be some reason which hasn’t been disclosed, but joining BJP is something I cannot understand,” Sibal said. It shows we are moving from ‘aaya ram gaya ram [join and leave]’ to ‘prasada politics, jahan prasad mile [wherever you get offerings], you join that party.”

With repeated jibes at Prasada’s surname, Sibal told NDTV that Indian politics has reached a stage where such decisions are not taken on the basis of ideology.

“We have seen this happening in West Bengal...suddenly people leave because they think BJP is going to succeed,” the former Union minister said. “You want to fight elections not on the basis of your convictions towards an ideology but your conviction that I might get something personally.”

Prasada, who reportedly wields a considerable influence among the Brahmin community of Uttar Pradesh, joined the BJP on Wednesday, ahead of Assembly elections in the state next year. He was also one of part of a group of 23 dissenting leaders who had questioned the Congress’ functioning in a letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi last year. Sibal was also one of the signatories to the letter, but he dismissed possibility of him joining the BJP.

“As far as we are concerned, we are true Congressmen,” he said. “I will never in my life even think of joining the BJP...over my dead body. It could be that [if] Congress leadership informs me...look we don’t need you anymore, [then] I might think of leaving the party but never in my life join BJP because how do I justify it to myself.”

On being asked whether reforms were underway in the Congress, Sibal said the party’s leadership knows the problems.

“I hope the leadership listens because nothing survives without listening,” he said. “The basic principle of politics is to listen to the people and then decide how to move forward.”

What about Congress alliance with Shiv Sena?: Prasada

Prasada reacted to Sibal’s comments and said the only ideology that mattered was national interest, reported NDTV. “He is a very senior leader [Kapil Sibal],” the politician told the news channel. “What was the ideology when the Congress aligned with the Shiv Sena? What was the ideology when Congress aligned with the Left in Bengal, and at the same time they were fighting the Left in Kerala.”

He also criticised Sibal and the Congress, saying that passing remarks about him was not going to change the party’s fortune.