Will BJP field Vadakkan against Shashi Tharoor?
New Delhi, March 16: Key Sonia Gandhi aide Tom Vadakkan has joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after getting a promise of a Lok Sabha ticket, say sources.
The entry of Vadakkan into the saffron party was kept so secret that it left even the veteran journalists, who have been covering the BJP and the Congress since decades, surprised.
Though Vadakkan said he joined the BJP because he was deeply disappointed by Congress' "questioning of the integrity of the armed forces" after the air strikes at the Jaish-e Mohammed terror camps in Pakistan's Balakot, but it is the promise of a BJP ticket that is the main driving force behind his entry into the saffron party.
Vadakkan had never been part of electoral politics. He had helped Sonia Gandhi build a media team when she assumed the charge of the party. When Rahul Gandhi took reins of the party in his hands then Vadakkan was pushed back even in the media department. Now Randeep Singh Surjewala and Priyanka Chaturvedi are at the helm of party's media affairs. Though Vadakkan was officially Congress spokesperson at the time of defection , he was also marginalised on that front.
He was with the Congress for nearly 20 years and had political ambitions. He was interested in fighting Lok Sabha elections from Thrissur or getting a Rajya Sabha berth.
Vadakkan is a native of Thrissur in Kerala and is believed to have the backing of influential Christian bishops.
"I have worked for the Congress for 20 years. But dynastic politics has reached the zenith. A use-and-throw phenomenon has started," he said while addressing media at BJP headquarters on Thursday.
A Congress leader tells One India that Vadakkan's two qualities - Keralaite and Christian - were not of much value in the Congress but they do matter a lot for the BJP.
"BJP is eyeing to increase base in Kerala through 'Christian' Vadakkan. However, Vadakkan is not a mass leader, but whatever he can bring in will be a bonus for the BJP," says the Congress leader.
Though Vadakkan is reportedly interested in contesting from home turf Thrissur Lok Sabha seat, a reliable source tells One India that the BJP may field him from Thiruvananthapuram against incumbent Congress MP Shashi Tharoor.
In 2014, BJP candidate O Rajagopal had given a tough fight to Tharoor by getting 2,42,336 votes. Tharoor had got 2,97,806 votes.
Rajagopal will be completing 90 years this September and is lone BJP MLA from Nemom in Kerala Assembly. He is unlikely to contest Lok Sabha elections due to his age.
"Rajagopal is a veteran Jan Sangh leader and the party may ask him to help Vadakkan if he is pitted against Tharoor," says the source.
It is notable that Vadakkan's candidature in Congress was always opposed by state Kerala Congress.
Sources say that apart from fielding him in elections, the BJP would like to take his help in making inroads among Christians.