Tom Vadakkan Image Credit: Supplied

New Delhi: In a huge embarrassment to Congress ahead of national elections, party spokesperson Tom Vadakkan, a long-time loyalist of veteran leader Sonia Gandhi, on Thursday joined Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stating that he was “deeply hurt” after his party questioned the integrity of Indian armed forces.

“The attack by Pakistan on our land and the reaction from my party was sad indeed. I left the party with heavy heart. If a party is working against national interest, then there is no other option but to leave it,” Vadakkan said after meeting BJP president Amit Shah and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

He said he gave Congress over two decades of his life but felt neglected as “the grand old party resorted to a practice of use and throw.”

“I gave my prime years to Congress. But now it is not acceptable. There is no place in Congress for self-respecting people,” Vadakkan lamented.

Stating that he believed in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development narrative, Vadakkan said he was grateful to BJP president Shah “who trusted me and accepted my membership to the party”.

“I am thankful to the Prime Minister who has wished me good luck and also to Amit Shah for believing in me,” he said.

Sources in Congress said Vadakkan was keen to contest elections but was denied a ticket by the party.

BJP is believed to have offered him a ticket to contest elections from Kerala — from Thrissur, Ernakulam or Idukki.

Reacting to Vadakkan’s defection to BJP, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said “every person who leaves a party to join another party is searching for a better future and must say something about his previous party.”

Vadakkan’s exit came as a shocker to Kerala Congress.

“It is an isolated incident. But the leadership will have to ensure that such seniors should not cross over. The party will examine reasons for his exit”, Congress leader Rajmohan Unnithan said.

Vadakkan had never been part of electoral politics. In late nineties, he was hand-picked by Sonia Gandhi to be part of the party’s first dedicated media department.

He was later elevated to the position of spokesperson.

Vadakkan also worked as a member of National Grievances Cell where he used to report to former PM Rajiv Gandhi. He was also adviser of All India Consumer Forum, a member of National Central Film Censor Board and a delegated Member of Kerala Film Censor Board.