Former Gujarat minister Jaynarayan Vyas, the face of the Gujarat government in TV debates when Narendra Modi was the chief minister, on Monday joined the Congress.
On his decision to quit the Bharatiya Janata Party after over three decades, the former spokesperson of the Gujarat government said, "I saw a large banyan tree expanding there. And you know nothing grows under the banyan tree.
Vyas, who quit the BJP earlier this month, joined the Congress in presence of its president Mallikarjun Kharge, who inducted the 75-year-old into the party.
Rajasthan Chief Minister and Congress veteran Ashok Gehlot welcomed Vyas into the party fold.
His son Samir Vyas also joined the Congress.
Addressing the media, Vyas lauded Rahul Gandhi and the Congress for the party's internal democracy.
An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Vyas served as the minister of health and family welfare in the Gujarat BJP government between 2007 and 2012 when Narendra Modi was the chief minister.
He was defeated in the subsequent Assembly elections in 2012 and 2017.
Referring to the BJP's decision to replace Gujarat chief ministers over the last few years and to change the entire cabinet in 2021, Jaynarayan Vyas claimed it was not in the interest of the state.
"If Gujarat is run by leaders who do not care even when removed from the ministry, then this is not in the interest of Gujarat. Those who care about the interest of Gujarat should speak up," he said.
The former minister said he has followed the Bharat Jodo Yatra and Rahul Gandhi is a leader not only of the Congress but everybody "who thinks of himself as an Indian and believes in democracy."
He also lauded the Congress over its internal process to select its president.
"I felt this party does not say things keeping a person at the centre, but where even the presidents are selected (through a democratic process) and only one name is not used for the post. Only the Congress functionaries decide who should be the leader, and no external factor like the Sangh is involved," he said.
Vyas expressed his commitment towards the national interest, and said he will fulfill whatever responsibilities the party gives him.
Referring to the BJP's narrative around the Narmada dam project, he said the "foundation of all big and small irrigation schemes were laid before 1960."
"The narrative around the Narmada scheme is a lie, and a lie told repeatedly becomes a truth," he said.
He said 75 per cent of the concrete work of the dam including the foundation -- most work went into the foundation -- started during the tenure of (then Congress chief minister) Amarsinh Chaudhary and (Congress leader) Sanat Mehta," he said.
Congress prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi played important roles in the progress of the Narmada scheme, he added.