NEW DELHI, Mar 14
Says, ‘hurt’ over Congress party’s stand post-Pulwama strike
IN an embarrassment to the Congress, Tom Vadakkan, once seen as a key aide of Sonia Gandhi, joined the BJP on Thursday, saying he was ‘deeply hurt’ over the Opposition party’s stand post-Pulwama terror strike, and that his decision was ‘not about ideology but patriotism’. Jolted by the surprise announcement, the Congress was quick to dismiss Vadakkan’s criticism of the party saying that till now he used to ‘abuse’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and hoped that all his ‘desires may be fulfilled’ in the BJP. Vadakkan, who joined the BJP in the presence of Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and later met its President Amit Shah, said, “I am deeply hurt and that is why I am here.’
Claiming that the Congress questioned the integrity of the armed forces, he said, “the attack by Pakistani terrorists on our land and the reaction by my party was sad indeed. It hurt me deeply when the integrity of Armed Forces was questioned. That is precisely the reason why I am here. It is not about ideology but about patriotism.” “If a party takes a position which is against the country then I had no other option but to leave it,” the 60 year old leader told reporters after joining the BJP. In an apparent attack on Rahul Gandhi for his leadership skills, Vadakkan said he has served the party for two decades but it has now resorted to a practise of ‘use and throw’ which is not acceptable to a self-respecting worker.
Criticising the Congress, the leader from Kerala said dynastic politics has reached its zenith and the party workers don’t know whom to listen to and who is the ‘power centre’. Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vadakkan said he believes in his development narrative. According to sources, Vadakkan was not given Lok Sabha tickets by the party in 2009 and 2014 and was not happy with the treatment meted out to him. There are indications that the BJP may field the former Congress spokesperson from a seat in Kerala in upcoming general elections. Reacting to Vadakkan joining the BJP, Surjewala, at a press conference, said: ‘Our best wishes to him.’ On Vadakkan citing dynastic politics and the Congress’s stand on the Pulwama terror attack and India’s retaliatory strikes as his reasons for quitting, Surjewala said every person who leaves a party to join another ‘searching for a better future’ has to say something. “Till now he used to abuse Modi, so what is the opinion of Modi ji and Ravi Shankar ji on that,” he said. “We were very pained at his departure. We hope whatever his desires are, they are fulfilled in the BJP,” Surjewala said. Interestingly, Vadakkan had recently tweeted, “Once you join BJP all your crimes are cleansed” while replying to a tweet that raised questions on why former TMC leader Mukul Roy, who joined the BJP, was not being questioned anymore for his alleged involvement in the Sharada Chit fund scam. Asked about his tweet and other previous remarks against the BJP and its leadership, Vadakkan said, they were made as a spokesperson of the Congress and he was only saying what he was asked to say by the party.
“I had been saying a lot of things as a spokesperson, which I am supposed to say on the party’s line. I stand by what I have said as a spokesperson of the Congress. But, now I am a free man. I am now able to speak openly and freely. I am the individual what I am now,” he told PTI. Vadakkan also praised the RSS, saying that organisation has been ‘misunderstood’ by highlighting its remarks selectively. After Sonia Gandhi assumed the leadership of the party, Vadakkan became an integral part of the Congress’ media management team. However, he was sidelined and though he was a spokesperson under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, he never wielded any influence in the party’s media department in the recent past.