New Delhi:Tom Vadakkan is not a big leader‘, said Congress president Rahul Gandhi, a day after the Nehru-Gandhi family loyalist joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the Lok Sabha election 2019. Also Read - Centre Faces Tough Question as Pressure Mounts to Impose Full Lockdown in India to Beat COVID Surge

Vadakkan, who was considered a close aide of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had asserted that Congress’s reaction to Pulwama terror attack, IAF’s air strike in Balakot and Pakistani Air Force (PAF) fighter jets violating Indian airspace in Nowshera and Poonch sectors of Jammu and Kashmir forced him to leave the grand old party. Also Read - Deploy Resources in Saving Lives Instead of Building PM's New House: Priyanka Gandhi

Earlier, Congress leaders in Kerala, had insisted that Vadakkan’s departure was a non-issue for the party. “We have only seen Vadakkan on TV channels. In Kerala he has had no space or role. His leaving is not going to affect us in any manner,”Congress spokesperson Joseph Vazhakken said in Thiruvananthapuram. Also Read - Full lockdown Is The Only Way to Stop Corona Now, Govt Doesn't Get It: Rahul Gandhi

Congress Secretary and former MLA PC Vishnunath said he failed to understand the noise over Vadakkan joining the BJP. “Vadakkan is one person who will not be able to make any impact even in a local body in Kerala. Who is he? Our only plea to the BJP is to see that they retain him forever,” he took potshots at the saffron party.

Speaking to reporters, after defecting to the ruling party, Vadakkan had said, “I am deeply hurt and that is why I am here. 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 am left with no option but to leave the party.”

Furthermore, he alleged,”It was not clear within the Congress that who was the power centre. I gave my prime of life to the Congress. But dynastic politics is now at its zenith in the party… There’s no place in it for self-respecting people.” Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad also told the media that Vadakkan had been impressed by the work done by the Modi government.

Meanwhile, Kerala BJP President PS Sreedharan Pillai claimed that many more Congress leaders were expected to join the party. “Vadakkan is just one. You just wait and see, more are coming. But I will not reveal who they are,” said Pillai.

On March 10, the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019. The 7-phase elections will begin on April 11 and the counting of votes will take place on May 23.