In a high-profile crossover ahead of the Gujarat Assembly polls, former state Congress spokeswoman Asifa Khan today joined BJP.
Khan, who hails from Bharuch district where Muslim population is high, said the community has to move on by "burying the 2002 communal riots".
"I am as pained as any victim of 2002 riots but the community has to move on. Riot victims are getting justice from the judiciary," she said in a reply to a query on who was responsible for the 2002 riots.
"You know that many riots took place before 2002 also in Gujarat," Khan told reporters.
A former journalist, Khan was handpicked by Congress president Sonia Gandhi's political advisor Ahmed Patel to join the party as spokesperson before the 2009 general elections.
Khan said though she was "grateful" to Ahmed Patel for brining her into politics, she stood firm on working for BJP.
Khan, who was also the media convener of national women wing of Congress, said she had no problem as such with Congress but decided to switch to BJP as the party is "working towards bringing in prosperity".
Elated over Khan crossing over to the saffron party, BJP said, "Her coming to the party proves that BJP is gaining support from all communities of the state ahead of elections. She has come to the party from Bharuch district where Muslim population is high," BJP MP and spokesman Vijay Rupani said.
He said more people will get attracted to BJP for its policy of "development for all and appeasement for none".
However, BJP kept mum on whether the party will give tickets to minority community members in the forthcoming elections. So far under Modi, no members of minority community have been given tickets by the party.
"The process of selecting candidates is on and our party observers are touring all districts. Once we get a report from observers our parliamentary board will decide on the issue," Rupani said in response to a query whether BJP will field Muslim candidates in the elections.
Gujarat will go to polls on December 13 and 17.
Khan's defection is viewed as adding muscle to chief minister Narendra Modi's efforts to shed his saffron tag by cultivating Muslim-friendly image.