Former Congress leader Vijayan Thomas tells TNM why he chose to join BJP

Two months ago, Vijayan Thomas had said that he will not be contesting the Kerala Assembly election.
Vijayan Thomas
Vijayan Thomas
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Until March 6, Vijayan Thomas’s Facebook page showed his status as “supporting Indian National Congress Nemom’. Six days later, on March 12, the veteran Congress leader announced that he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), becoming the latest leader to leave the Congress party. On March 10, another veteran leader, PC Chacko, resigned stating that candidature was being decided without any discussions. In early March, Vijayan resigned from the post of general secretary of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), citing the same reasons — internal politics and groupism within the party. 

Joining the BJP was not an impulsive decision, says Vijayan Thomas. For the past six months, he has been nurturing the desire to join the BJP. The workings of the Congress party had been upsetting him for quite some time, he told TNM. It reached a breaking point when the Congress party asked him to stop functioning or focussing on the Nemom Assembly constituency, he says.

The Nemom constituency in Thiruvananthapuram district has turned into a political battleground of sorts this election season. The Congress and Communist Party of India (Marxist) are pulling all stops, including fielding their heavyweights, to win the seat. Why? Nemom is a BJP constituency, and its sole seat in Kerala. The big parties are now focussed on clinching the seat from BJP.

Vijayan stressed that he did not join BJP because he was not given the Nemom seat. In fact. two months ago, Vijayan put a post on Facebook, announcing that he will not be contesting in the Assembly elections.

“I tried to revive an Assembly constituency that was lying dead for the past 15 years. I formed a party system in Nemom. However, six months ago, a senior leader of the Congress party rang me up and asked me to stop working in the area,” he alleged.

“I thought I could recapture the Nemom constituency from the hands of the BJP. It was not for any personal gains,” he said, “In this context, if I am asked to stop working in the constituency, what should I infer from this?”

“It hurt me a lot. Why did the leaser ask me to stop working for the Nemom constituency? Is it because I am a Christian?” he asked. He refused to divulge the name of the leader, but laughed when this reporter enquired if it was Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.

“The same leader had earlier told me bluntly that I will not be on the list of the KPCC general secretary. But it was AICC (All Indian Congress Committee) general secretary KC Venugopal who added me as the general secretary by making an additional list,” he said.

“By asking me not to work in Nemom, they cast doubt on my credibility and self-respect,” he said.

The Congress is yet to decide its candidate for Nemom. While veteran leader and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy expressed his desire to contest from his home turf of Puthuppally in Kottayam district, the Congress leadership is reportedly pushing for his candidature in Nemom, where BJP’s former state president Kummanam Rajasekharan is likely to contest.

“Twenty-three among the important leaders have joined separately at the all-India level and nobody is there to question this,” he said, referring to the G-23, a group of 23 Congress leaders who are demanding an organisational overhaul of the party.

“Here, in Kerala, the whims and fancies of the people are being followed. Many among those who are in the Congress party have the same opinion as mine. However, they are not coming out and expressing it. They are expecting that they will get something at the last minute,” he said.

Vijayan Thomas said that he had suffered tremendous neglect from the party. “I have contributed to the Congress party. If the leadership thinks that we will suffer their spite and neglect, then there is no point in continuing with the Congress. It is easy for others to criticise me. But none of those who belong to my place or Thiruvananthapuram would criticise me,” he said.

To the question of whether the BJP is an alternative for the Congress in Kerala, he said, “I am not fascinated by that option. I have my own principles. There are a number of people who are depending on me. I have an attachment with them. I am only thinking if I can help them in some way.”

Vijayan said he has a good connection with some LDF leaders, but the chances of joining the front would have been minimal as “they have their own limitations,” he said.

“I joined the BJP since it is a party that is at the national level. There are no other interpretations behind that. We are criticising the BJP as a communal party. But what the Congress has been displaying is a communal attitude that is bigger than the one propagated by the BJP,” he said.

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