A Spokesperson Exodus: They Were Congress's Voice, Now They Speak For BJP

Gourav Vallabh quit the Congress and joined BJP hours later

New Delhi:

They were once the Congress’s defenders during TV debates on burning issues. They would target the ruling BJP and pose tough questions. They now articulate the government’s position and slam the Congress and its leadership.

Gourav Vallabh today joined the list of Congress spokespersons who have switched to the BJP over the past few years. A familiar face on social media, reels of Mr Vallabh’s sharp jabs at BJP leaders would often go viral. He resigned from the Congress this morning and was welcomed into the BJP hours later.

Addressing the media shortly after, he said he was not happy with the party’s lack of direction. “I can neither raise anti-Sanatan slogans nor abuse wealth creators day in and day out. Therefore, I resign from all posts and primary membership of the party,” he said in his resignation letter to Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge.

During his time with the Congress, Mr Vallabh unsuccessfully contested Assembly polls in Jharkhand and Rajasthan.

Not The First One

Before Mr Vallabh, prominent Congress voices who have jumped across the political aisle include Jaiveer Shergill, Shehzad Poonawalla and Rita Bahuguna Joshi. Mr Shergill joined the BJP in 2022, after spending a decade with the Congress and spelling out its position as a media panelist. Mr Poonawalla, another prominent face of the Grand Old Party, made headlines in 2017 when he called the Congress’s organisational polls a “sham”. He later joined the BJP and was appointed its spokesperson. In 2021, he was also made the in-charge of the BJP’s social media wing for the national capital.

Ms Joshi, a former Congress spokesperson who has also served as a state minister and UP Congress chief, switched to the BJP in 2016, shortly after the Congress pitched Sheila Dikshit as its Chief Ministerial face for the 2017 Uttar Pradesh polls.

Another big exit was of Priyanka Chaturvedi, who switched to Shiv Sena in 2019 – this was before the Uddhav Thackeray-led party exited the NDA and joined hands with the Congress. Following the split in Sena, Ms Chaturvedi is now on the same side of the political divide as her former party.

What’s Behind The Exodus

Most spokespersons who quit the Congress alleged inaccessibility of the leadership and blamed “dynasty” in their parting shots. Mr Shergill said he tried to meet the Gandhis for a year and was “pushed to bow down before people because they’re close to the top leadership”. Mr Poonawalla said he was “forced out for speaking against (the) dynasty”. Earlier, he had challenged Rahul Gandhi to a TV debate on their vision for the Congress. “We can be judged on merit, not on the surname,” he said.

Ms Joshi had said that while Sonia Gandhi heard senior leaders and gave them a free hand, that did not happen under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership.

Ms Chaturvedi quit after the party reinstated some leaders she had accused of misbehaviour. She had also said that she had hoped that the party would give her a chance to go to “another level, but that did not happen”.

A Jolt To Narrative

Mr Vallabh’s exit just before the Lok Sabha election is a big blow to the Congress PR campaign. Especially at a time when one of the party’s most prominent faces, Supriya Shrinate, is under fire for an offensive social media post against BJP candidate and actor Kangana Ranaut. While Ms Shrinate has clarified that the post was made without her knowledge, the damage is done.

Another senior leader, Pawan Khera, was at the centre of a row earlier this year over the BJP’s allegations that he had insulted Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala is also drawing criticism for his remark on BJP MP and actor Hema Malini.


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