Kirti Azad, suspended by the BJP three years ago, joined the Congress today and called it "gharwapsi (homecoming)", months before the national election due by May. Rahul Gandhi led the welcome squad as Kirti Azad, a former cricketer who was a part of the 1983 World Cup squad, joined the Congress.
Taking a cue from his new party boss, Kirti Azad targeted the BJP over the Rafale jet deal and claimed that "even BJP lawmakers suspect that there is something wrong in the deal."
Kirti Azad, 60, spent 26 years in the BJP and is a three-time parliamentarian from Bihar's Darbhanga.
आज सुबह कांग्रेस के राष्ट्रीय अध्यक्ष श्री @RahulGandhi जी ने मुझे कांग्रेस की सदस्यता ग्रहण कराई मैंने मिथिला की परंपरा में उनको मखाना की माला, पाग, चादर से सम्मानित किया।
Today in front of Shri Rahul Gandhi I joined the Congress I felicitated him in traditional Mithila style pic.twitter.com/B9DQwCM207
— Kirti Azad (@KirtiAzadMP) February 18, 2019
"I have come back home. My father was made an MP at the age of 26 by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1952," he told reporters. His father Bhagwat Jha Azad was a Congress leader and a former chief minister of Bihar.
Kirti Azad was to have joined the Congress on February 15 but the event was put off because of the Pulwama terror attack a day before, in which 40 soldiers were killed. He had tweeted too that he would be joining the Congress in front of "the young energetic president Rahul Gandhi".
Later, he tweeted: "Met Rahul Gandhiji it was rightly decided that in mark of respect to the martyred soldiers of Pulwama my joining the Congress will now take place on February 18 we will be in state of mourning for three days." He added that the "country is bigger than a person or party and soldiers are supreme Ameen".
Met @RahulGandhi ji it was rightly decided that in mark of respect to the martyred soldiers of Pulwama my joining the @INCIndia will now take place on 18th February we will be in state of mourning for 3 days country is bigger than a person or party and soldiers are supreme Ameen— Kirti Azad (@KirtiAzadMP) February 15, 2019
Kirti Azad is believed to be keen on contesting again from his Darbhanga constituency, but the Congress may be more inclined to fielding the cricketer-turned-politician in Delhi, say sources.
He said whether he would contest from Darbhanga would be decided by his party leadership.
Kirti Azad was suspended by the BJP in 2015 as he went public with his criticism of his party senior, Union Minister Arun Jaitley, over alleged corruption in Delhi's cricket body DDCA at a time it was headed by him.
"I had raised corruption in DDCA. There were official documents but the party didn't even look at them, instead they punished me," he said.
He had been openly critical of his party leadership long before his suspension. Soon after the BJP's action, Kirti Azad received support from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as well as the Congress, which invited him to join. He was quoted as telling reporters that he was "stabbed in the back" by his leadership.