In another jolt to the Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, a senior leader from Haryana, Arvind Kumar Sharma, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday. This comes a day after, Sonia Gandhi aide Tom Vadakkan took the saffron plunge. Sharma was a two-time MP from the Karnal constituency. Sharma had quit the Congress to join the BSP during the Assembly elections in 2014. He had been declared the chief ministerial candidate by BSP supremo Mayawati. The party had won only one seat with Sharma losing from both seats.
On Thursday, the voice of Congress for the past 15 years, Vadakkan has been known as a close confidant of Sonia Gandhi. In fact, he was the man who witnessed the change of guard at 24, Akbar road in 1998. A staunch Congress supporter, Vadakkan was chosen by Sonia Gandhi to send out the message of her willingness to enter active politics Vadakkan was summoned by Sonia’s office to “carry an important message” to then party chief Sitaram Kesri. “I got the letter and went to Kesri-ji’s office but his peon didn’t allow me inside. I handed over the letter to Harish Khare, his advisor then. In the letter, Soniaji had expressed her willingness to campaign for the party, which was an indication that she would be finally stepping into active politics,” Vadakkan was quoted as saying by the Economic Times in a 2016 report.
Apart from being Congress spokesperson, Vadakkan was also a member of National Central Film Censor Board and a delegated Member of Kerala Film Censor Board. In 2009, Kerala Congress had faced revolt over Vadakkan’s Thrissur candidature. In fact, state spokesman of Youth Congress Gopa Prathap was expelled from party for six years for speaking against Vadakkan.
This election season, Congress has faced major blows with prominent faces joining the BJP. On March 12, Sujay Vikhe Patil, son of the leader of opposition in Maharashtra Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, joined the BJP in the presence of Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis in Mumbai. Reportedly, the development comes after NCP chief Sharad Pawar, whose party is in alliance with the Congress in the state, rejected Sujay’s request to contest the polls from Ahmednagar Lok Sabha seat.
"I am impressed with PM Modi's leadership. We can count on BJP," Sujay said while addressing reporters after joining BJP. He had said, "I've taken this decision against my father’s wishes. I don’t know how much my parents will support this decision, but I'll try my best to make my family proud by working under the guidance of BJP. CM and other BJP MLAs were supportive and helped me take the decision."