Congress lacks a strong leader like PM Modi: Padmaja Venugopal

Padmaja Venugopal, who joined the BJP a day ago, said on Friday that the Congress lacks a strong leader like Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Padmaja Venugopal
Padmaja Venugopal

Thiruvananthapuram | Padmaja Venugopal, who joined the BJP a day ago, said on Friday that the Congress lacks a strong leader like Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Padmaja, who was accorded a grand welcome at the airport here by BJP leaders, including its state president K Surendran, and party workers, later said at a press conference that it pained her to leave the Congress, but she was not ready to put up any longer with the "insults" she has been suffering.

She said that someone asked her why she joined the BJP as she has stood strong with the Congress even when facing problems from within the party.

"After seeing Prime Minister Modi's style of functioning for some time, I realised that every party needs a strong leader. The Congress does not have any such strong leaders," she said.

Padmaja, the daughter of Congress stalwart and former Kerala Chief Minister K Karunakaran, alleged that the leaders in the party do not even have time to meet its functionaries.

She said that when she recently went to the Congress's headquarters in Delhi, she found that Sonia Gandhi does not meet anyone, "Rahul Gandhi has no time and most of the senior leaders have left (the party)".

"...That day, I realised there was no point in remaining there. I had had enough of being insulted.

"During the elections, I was not included in any committees, four-to-five people within the party were working to chase me out of Thrissur and create problems for me everywhere else and when I complained about it, the party leadership did not take it seriously, which hurt me," Padmaja said.

All these things had been in her mind for some time, but she had not shared it with anyone else, she said.

"So, they (Congress) were shocked by my sudden decision. They never thought I would take such a decision. I told them that anyone pushed into a corner would push back," she said.

On reporters seeking her views about what Youth Congress state President Rahul Mamkootathil said about her parentage a day ago, she said that his comments amounted to insulting her mother and therefore, she would be filing a complaint against him in that regard.

Regarding what her elder brother, Congress MP K Muraleedharan, said about her decision, Padmaja said that he has no right to blame her when he has changed parties several times in the past.

"I never said anything bad about him when I was in the Congress and he left it to join some other parties. He is my brother, so I have no intention of saying anything against him.

"But, we need to keep our political and personal lives separate. My political life is different," she said.

On reporters pointing out that Muraleedharan said she was working from home and therefore, does not need any more consideration than what she has already got, Padmaja said that was an unfair statement coming from him.

She said that Muraleedharan was aware of the health problems she had been suffering for over one-and-a-half years and therefore, he should not have made such a statement.

"What he said, therefore, was for political gains and votes," she remarked.

Padmaja officially joined the BJP at a function held at the party headquarters in New Delhi on Thursday.

While the BJP suggested that it marked the decline of the grand old party, the ruling CPI(M) in Kerala sought to capitalise on the development by suggesting that it could erode trust in the Congress.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan questioned whether there was any guarantee that Congress leaders when voted to power would remain with it and not join the BJP.

Muraleedharan said that her decision was a betrayal and that their father's spirit would not condone it, and added that he was ending his relationship with his sister.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chief K Sudhakaran termed Padmaja's decision as "cheating and betraying" the party and a "breach of confidence".

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