Sunil Jakhar, senior Congress leader and former chief of its Punjab unit, has joined BJP.
Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh Raja Warring hit out at Sunil Jakhar who joined the BJP on Thursday, saying he might have formally joined the saffron outfit now but he had started working for it long before and was playing blatant Hindutva politics.
While the Congress slammed Sunil Jakhar, former chief minister Amarinder Singh, whose Punjab Lok Congress is an ally of the BJP, congratulated him for joining the saffron outfit and said honest and upright leaders like him cannot breathe in the grand old party.
Referring to his unceremonious exit as chief minister last year after which he quit the Congress, Amarinder Singh recalled how within the span of less than a year, the Congress party has "completely collapsed in Punjab due to one wrong decision".
He said the Congress was headed for an "imminent doom" and claimed more leaders were likely to desert the "sinking ship" in the coming days.
Former Punjab Congress president Jakhar joined the BJP in Delhi in the presence of party chief J P Nadda, days after he quit the grand old party.
Reacting to this, Warring said the development was along expected lines.
He also accused Sunil Jakhar of damaging the Congress "in every way".
"Not unexpected. @sunilkjakhar may have formally joined the @BJP4India today, he had started working for the party long before, playing blatantly Hindutva politics, damaging the party in every way. There was reason for him to rake up 'Hindu' card and the reason was revealed today," Mr Warring tweeted.
However, in his tweet, Amarinder Singh, with whom Sunil Jakhar shared a good equation when both were in the Congress, said, "Right man in the right party. Congratulations to @sunilkjakhar for joining @BJP4India." "Honest and upright leaders like him cannot breathe in the @INCIndia anymore," said Amarinder Singh, who had last year floated his party after quitting the Congress following his unceremonious exit as the chief minister.
The top leadership in the Congress forced Amarinder Singh out after Navjot Singh Sidhu targeted him for months over unfulfilled promises by his government.
"I was the chief minister, while Sunil was the PCC president and everything was going on so well and we were headed for repeating the government just less than a year ago," he said, adding, “And one wrong decision by the leadership and that proved suicidal for the party that it is now staring at its own doom in Punjab as elsewhere in the country." BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh welcomed Sunil Jakhar's decision to join the BJP and said that the party has been always committed to give representation to all sections of society.
He said Sunil Jakhar comes from a farming family and it is an endorsement of the prime minister's policies to benefit farmers.
Sunil Jakhar, he said in a statement, carries a rich political legacy and the BJP welcomed him to help take Punjab to new heights.
The BJP, he said, was open to political leaders who are prepared to work for the national integrity and growth of Punjab. Earlier in the day, Mr Nadda said Sunil Jakhar had enjoyed a special stature in Punjab that was independent of the Congress party and helped strengthen nationalist forces in the state.
"BJP is emerging as the number one nationalist force in Punjab. Hence it is necessary for all leaders having nationalist ideology to join the BJP to strengthen the party and for a stronger Punjab," Mr Nadda said.
Sunil Jakhar, a three-term MLA and a former Lok Sabha member from Gurdaspur, said the BJP had welcomed him because he had not pursued politics for personal good.
He had quit the Congress last week after lashing out at former Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Twitter, saying that he was "not an asset" as portrayed by the party leadership.
He was removed from all party posts by the Congress disciplinary committee following allegations of anti-party activities levelled against him by certain Punjab unit leaders.
He also lashed out at veteran Congress leader Ambika Soni for her statement on the "repercussions of having a Hindu chief minister in Punjab".
Sunil Jakhar also held Ambika Soni's statement as one of the reasons for the Congress' drubbing in the Punjab assembly polls earlier this year.