For Gourav Vallabh, a former Finance Professor from Xavier School of Management (XLRI), quitting as Congress spokesperson to join the BJP on Thursday is a big leap of faith. It is simultaneously a loss for the Congress as Vallabh was among its most effective spokespersons not just on matters concerning finance and economy but on social and political issues as well.

Although his resignation letter a few hours before he joined the saffron party indicated his latest political alignment, Vallabh’s positioning as a trenchant critic of the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes him an unlikely entrant in the party.

For someone who consistently attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister Smriti Irani for their educational qualifications and Home Minister Amit Shah for the criminal cases that he had faced in the past, joining the same political grouping was as sudden as it was unseemly. Having attacked the BJP’s Hindutva ideology as being “the belief system of Nathuram Godse”, he turned to criticising the Congress as being “anti-Hindu” in his resignation letter. For good measure, as someone with a background in finance and economy, he underlined that he cannot join the Congress’s chorus in “attacking India’s wealth creators”.

“I am upset with the Congress’s stand on Lord Ram’s temple in Ayodhya. I am born a Hindu and have been a teacher. When some people in the party and its allies attack Sanatan Dharma and the party keeps quiet, it is like giving a silent assent,” Vallabh said in his resignation letter. He then proceeded to characterise the Congress’s stand on economic matters as being against creation of wealth.

“On matters of economy, the Congress’s stand has been to attack and abuse wealth creators. Congress has turned against the principles of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation for which the whole world gave it credit,” he said.

Within hours of submitting his resignation letter, the BJP rolled down the red carpet for Vallabh who joined the party at its headquarters. While the BJP welcomed the arrival of an effective spokesperson, Vallabh’s ambition would be to be elected to the Rajya Sabha which he had been aspiring for. Vallabh has also unsuccessfully contested Lok Sabha elections from Jamshedpur and the last assembly elections in Rajasthan from Udaipur on a Congress ticket.

In the BJP, Vallabh is recognised most for demolishing its spokesperson Sambit Patra on prime time TV. In a debate on TV where Patra had been holding forth about 5 trillion economy, Vallabh famously asked him, “So, Patra, 5 trillion has how many zeroes?” When Patra prevaricated, saying “ask Rahul Gandhi”, Vallabh pressed on: “No you answer. I challenge you.” The TV anchor then turned to Vallabh and said, “Why don’t you tell us how many zeroes in 5 trillion”. “Ten to the power 12, 12 zeroes,” pat came the reply from Vallabh.

“It would not be easy for him to adjust here,” said a BJP insider.