Thiruvananthapuram, March 14 : Congress national spokesperson Tom Vadakkan's joining the BJP could not have come at a more inopportune time for the grand old party, coming as it did when the party is racing against time to draw up its candidate list for the upcoming general elections and at the same time working overtime to resolve rifts within its ally the KC(M) over the Kottayam seat.
Even though Mr. Vadakkan is not a heavyweight of the congress who commands a mass following, his defection to the BJP camp is a setback to the party in Kerala as it lends further credence to the CPI(M) propaganda that the congress and the BJP are birds of the same feather and that a vote for the congress is as good as a vote for the BJP given the recurring instances of congress MLAs and MPs defecting to the BJP.
The CPI(M) wasted no time on Thursday to launch a blistering attack on the congress over Mr. Vadakkan's joining the BJP with Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan terming the congress a "recruiting centre" of the BJP.
Mr. Vijayan told reporters that there was nothing to be surprised about Tom Vadakkan joining the BJP since a lot of congress leaders had been switching their loyalties to the saffron party of late.
It was unfortunate that congress leaders in many states were defecting to the BJP after winning the people's mandate as a congress candidate, he added, pointing out that 4 or 5 congress legislators recently switched over to the BJP in Gujarat.
Meanwhile, congress firebrand leader V T Balram took a swipe at Mr. Vadakkan. In an oblique reference to the former congress spokesperson, Balram said that those leaving the congress did not command ten votes even in their hometowns.
Social media users had a field day at Mr. Vadakkan's expense digging up his old tweets as congress spokesperson bashing the BJP and Narendra Modi.
Some users even appeared flabbergasted by Vadakkan's decision given that he had as recently as last night retweeted a tweet by congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi.
Even though the stated reason for Vadakkan's departure from the congress is the party's alleged disrespect towards the armed forces in the wake of the Pulwama attack, speculation is rife that he left the party disgruntled at being given the cold-shoulder in elections despite being loyal to the party and the Gandhi family for over two decades.
He had tried to use his proximity to the AICC leadership to contest from his native Thrissur constituency in 2009 but his candidature was thwarted by strident opposition by the local leadership of the party.