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‘Vadakkan?... Not a big leader’: Rahul Gandhi on Tom Vadakkan joining BJP

Tom Vadakkan, who had been with the Congress for nearly 20 years, joined the BJP on Thursday in a surprise move and accused his former party of questioning the integrity of the armed forces.

india Updated: Mar 15, 2019 18:23 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
Rahul Gandhi,Congress,Tom Vadakkan
Congress president Rahul Gandhi at a meeting in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, on Friday. (Congress/Twitter)

A day after Congress’s Tom Vadakkan jumped ship and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress president Rahul Gandhi spoke on the development.

News agency ANI reported that when asked about what effect Vadakkan’s leaving the Congress would have on the party, Rahul Gandhi said, “Vadakkan? No, no Vadakkan is not a big leader.”

In a brief interaction with media persons, Rahul Gandhi downplayed Vadakkan’s leaving the party and sought to bring focus on the three issues that the party has been attacking the BJP and PM Modi on.

Watch: ‘Tom Vadakkan not a big leader’ says Rahul Gandhi after spokesman joins BJP

“The biggest issue is unemployment. Narendra Modi fail. The second big issue is that of corruption. You must have heard of Rafale. And the third issue is of farmers,” Rahul Gandhi said.

A Gandhi family loyalist, Vadakkan had joined the BJP on Thursday in a surprise move. At the media briefing announcing his move to the BJP, Vadakkan, who had spent two decades with the party’s media department, criticised the Congress party’s response to the air strikes India had launched on Balakot in Pakistan, in the aftermath of the February 14 Pulwama terror attack, which killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans.

Ironically, Vadakkan’s announcement came on a day when Congress president Rahul Gandhi kick-started the party’s election campaign in Kerala’s Thrissur, Vadakkan’s home constituency.

“I left the party with a heavy heart. If a party is working against national interest, there is no other option but to leave it,” Vadakkan told reporters.

Vadakkan said he gave the Congress two decades of his life but the party has now resorted to the practice of “use and throw”.

Dynastic politics has reached its zenith in the Congress, he said, adding that he believed in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development narrative.

There is speculation that the BJP will field Vadakkan from Thrissur in Kerala, currently held by the Communist Party of India.

Commenting on Vadakkan’s remarks, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “Anybody who leaves a party to join another party has to make certain comments. The way he used to abuse [PM Narendra] Modi and Amit Shah, I want to know what their opinions are on it.”

First Published: Mar 15, 2019 13:13 IST