Tom Vadakkan joins the BJP: What this means for the Congress
The entry of Tom Vadakkan is very significant in terms of political optics.
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Tom Vadakkan, who was Congress’s popular media face until recently, defending the party’s plans and policies, has joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on March 14. His switch from the grand old party has set social media abuzz with people digging out Vadakkan’s old tweets against the BJP.
Explaining the reasons for his move, Vadakkan says 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 (JeM) terror camps in Pakistan's Balakot.
Tom Vadakkan: I left Congress party because when Pakistani terrorists attacked our land, my party's reaction to it was sad, it hurt me deeply. 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. pic.twitter.com/8oZYoFRGx4— ANI (@ANI) March 14, 2019
But what does the move actually mean for the BJP?
The former Congress spokesman is credited with helping Sonia Gandhi build a media team when she was the party president. However, with the likes of Sambit Patra, Nalin Kohli, Gaurav Bhatia and Shaina NC et al on its side, the BJP already has a battle-hardened media team on its side.
Vadakkan, who had been with the Congress party for nearly 20 years, has never been a part of electoral politics — he was part of the Congress’ media strategy but was gradually eased out with Priyanka Chaturvedi and Randeep Surjewala gaining prominence and gradually playing a bigger role.
But the move does serve a psychological blow to the Congress, with just less than a month to go before the first round of polling takes off in India.
Welcomed into the BJP by Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Vadakkan said he has given his "prime years" to the Congress. He also alleged, "There's no place in it [the Congress] for self-respecting people".
Saying it with flowers: According to Tom Vadakkan, the Congress is 'no place for self-respecting individuals'. (Source: Twitter)
The Congress has of late seen some of its top leaders desert the party ranks in search of greener pastures.
On March 12, Sujay Vikhe-Patil, son of Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, joined the BJP in the presence of Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and the BJP state president Raosaheb Danve in south Mumbai.
In Gujarat alone, four MLAs — Jawahar Chavda, Parshottam Sabariya, Vallabh Dharaviya and Ashaben Patel — have resigned from the grand old party and joined the BJP, all in just about a month’s time.
In December 2018, when the Congress won Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh from the BJP’s hold, it had given hope to the Opposition camp that the BJP was not invincible.
With the Opposition raising the issues of joblessness and agrarian crisis, it appeared as though Election 2019 would indeed be a cliff-hanger.
But the Indian Air Force air-strikes in the wake of the dastardly Pulwama terror attack brought muscular nationalism to centrestage in the electoral discourse.
At a time when the Congress is trying to bring the narrative back to jobs and economic growth, the spate of resignations from its ranks, leaders leaving it to go join the BJP, does not look good on the party.
Vadakkan’s joining the BJP is a clear loss for the Congress, not in electoal politics as much in the battle of optics.