Randeep Singh Surjewala said that Kamal Nath has stayed with Congress through thick and thin.

New Delhi:  Amid spate of desertions and switchovers, the Congress rubbished rumours that senior leader Kamal Nath was planning to join the BJP. It said that the BJP is running a campaign to malign Congress leaders and hit the morale of the party.

“The BJP is running a malicious ugly whisper campaign to malign Congress party’s senior-most leaders. Kamal Nath is not only one of the most experienced leaders of the party but has been the architect of the strategy and narrative of the Congress through challenging times,” party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.

He added that “be it from 1977 to 1980 (the period after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared Emergency) or between 1989 and 2004 (when the party wasn’t in power), and then as part of the government, Mr Nath has stayed with the party through thick and thin.

With many high profile as well as veteran leaders leaving the party, the Congress has run into rough weather. Just last week, former Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely walked out of the party to join the BJP, declaring that the Congress had “died” under the present leadership. The former Delhi minister was welcomed into the party by BJP chief Amit Shah and Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari. Along with Mr Lovely, a Delhi Youth Congress leader Amit Malik also joined the BJP.

Congress old hand and one of the important Congress leaders in Karnataka, SM Krishna quit the party in January after 46 years, and joined the BJP last month.

There was speculation that Congress MP and former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor, too, was joining the BJP. But he denied such reports in a Facebook post. “…rumours of my joining BJP have been floated periodically with no basis whatsoever. I deny them categorically and without qualification,” he said.

On those quitting the party, Mr Surjewala said, “The mettle of a leader is tested not when the party is in power but during challenging times. Those who have left the party can find the best place for themselves in the BJP as that party is prone to attracting defectors bereft of any ideology, direction or commitment to their own party.”

As Delhi votes for its three municipal corporations tomorrow, the recent resignations could prove expensive for the party whose Sheila Dikshit-led government ruled the national capital for 15 years before Arvind Kejriwal took over the reins.

But Mr Surjewala said the party is bullish about winning and added that “instead of spreading such canards (rumours about partymen leaving Congress), the BJP should answer to the people of Delhi about corruption in the three MCDs over last 10 years”.

(With inputs from PTI)

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