- Tom Vadakkan was with the Congress for 20 years
- Mr Vadakkan has never been part of electoral politics
- Mr Vadakkan was once a close aide of Sonia Gandhi
With less than a month to go for the national elections, Tom Vadakkan, Congress spokesman who helped Sonia Gandhi build a media team when she was the party chief, defected to the BJP today. He said he was deeply disappointed by his party's "questioning of the integrity of the armed forces" after the air strikes at the Jaish-e Mohammed terror camps in Pakistan's Balakot
"If a political party takes such a position that is against the country, then I'm left with no option but to leave the party," Mr Vadakkan said. He also said he believed in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's development narrative.
Party sources admitted that Mr Vadakkan's move, while being expected, can be a setback psychologically.
Mr Vadakkan, who had been with the party for nearly 20 years, had never been part of electoral politics.
For years, he had been in charge of the party's media strategy, but was eased out after the Congress had to rise to the challenge of the BJP's muscular social media strategy. The media cell, where he was a secretary, is dominated by Priyanka Chaturvedi and its chief Randeep Surjewala.
Seated by BJP's Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad at a press conference today, Mr Vadakkan said he has given his "prime years" to the Congress. Accusing the party of having "dynastic politics" and a "use and throw culture" he said, "It is not acceptable... There's no place in it for self-respecting people".
Sources said Mr Vadakkan had been keen on a ticket to contest elections and the BJP is likely to have promised him one.
Mr Vadakkan was the second key opposition leader to cross over to the BJP today. Arjun Singh, Trinamool Congress lawmaker from Bengal's Bhatpara assembly seat switched sides in New Delhi this afternoon.