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Grand old party stares at crisis of commitment

Bharatiya Janata Party senior leader Ravi Shankar Prasad and former Congress leader Tom Vadakkan after the latter joined Bharatiya Janta Party, in New Delhi on Thursday. (PTI Photo)

When Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan, a close aide of Sonia Gandhi, resigned from the Congress after serving the party for 20 years and immediately joined the BJP, the Congress was looking at a big issue: the crisis of commitment.

So Vadakkan, who till last week was retweeting tweets that called Modi supporters “bhakts” and slogans like “BJP bhagao, desh bachao” had no qualms in showering encomiums on BJP chief Amit Shah.

Vadakkan, who was never shy of flaunting that it was Sonia Gandhi who appointed him, rued over “dynasty politics” having reached its zenith in the Congress. Vadakkan was just following the footsteps of many Congress leaders who have been leaving the party one after another. Just a couple days ago, Sujay Vikhe Patil, son of senior Maharashtra Congress leader joined the BJP, leaving the grand old party red-faced.

The party’s MLA Kalidas Kolambkar has also quit the party and is reportedly on his way to the BJP. At least three Congress leaders from Gujarat have quit in the last one week. Several Congress workers in Assam have also joined the BJP this week.

Vadakkan, who has been on the sidelines for sometime was earlier an all-powerful AICC media secretary of the party, said he gave the prime of his time and energy to the party but had gone nothing in return.

There were others who before him though amply rewarded by the party such as former Karnataka chief minister S M Krishna, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister N D Tiwari, former Union minister Jayanti Natarajan. 

However, Vadakkan has so far refrained from attacking Rahul Gandhi, like Jayanti or Krishna before him.

The Congress has been the crisis of desertion since 2014.

Everytime the BJP wanted to balance caste and community equations in the party, the BJP poaches Congress leaders. With Vadakkan, they are inducting a Christian face from Kerala, where the party is believed to consolidated sufficient Hindu votes riding on the Sabarimala agitation. While inducting Krishna, the party had the Vokaligga vote bank in mind. And it is Krishna that it is pressing into campaign against the JD(S) influence in Vokaligga regions. The trail of desertions are worrying are worrying for the Congress, even though the party won three Assembly elections recently and did fairly well in the Gujarat polls earlier.

Over half a dozen senior leaders, including former chief ministers and former Union ministers have quit the party since 2014. Most of these leaders have strong community appeal, which the BJP hopes to harness in the Lok Sabha polls. The Congress has not been able to keep its flock together in the Northeast, where the BJP has gained by inducting leaders like Himanta Biswa Sarma.

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