In a major setback for the Congress, senior leader Tom Vadakkan on Thursday in a surprise move joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) saying he was “hurt” by his party’s questioning of the integrity of armed forces.

He also said that he believed in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development narrative.

Vadakkan was referring to the Balakot strike, after which, many Congress leaders demanded proof of the retaliatory assault and casualties in the aftermath of the Pulwama suicide bombing that left over 44 CRPF men dead.

“I left Congress party because when Pakistani terrorists attacked our land, my party’s reaction to it was sad, it hurt me deeply. If a political party takes such a position that is against the country then I’m left with no option but to leave the party,” he said.

“I gave my prime of life to the Congress. But dynastic politics is now at its zenith in the party… There’s no place in it for self-respecting people,” he was uoted as saying by NDTV.

The Congress leader was welcomed into the BJP by party chief Amit Shah, who earlier joined the party in the presence of Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Following the Pulwama terror attack, India carried out “non-military pre-emptive” airstrikes targeting the JeM training camp in Balakot in Pakistan’s restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, about 80-km from the Line of Control (LoC) early on February 26.

Hours after the pre-dawn offensive, the Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had said that “India has struck the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot eliminating a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commander and jihadis in the operation”.

The opposition had however, raised questions on the number of casualties put out by government sources since the strike.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several BJP leaders including VK Singh and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh attacked those questioning the veracity of the strikes insisting people who do that are indulging in politics over the valour of the armed forces.

The sparring between the government and the opposition intensified after BJP chief Amit Shah on Sunday claimed that “more than 250” terrorists were killed in the operation, even when the government was yet to give out an official count of the terrorists killed.