PC Chacko's resignation comes as a huge shock to the Congress.
- PC Chacko is one of the Congress's top faces
- The veteran leader has quit the party ahead of state polls
- His resignation comes as a huge shock to the Congress
Congress veteran PC Chacko quit the party today complaining that there was "no democracy left" in the Congress and not sparing the "high command" in his recriminations. "There is no Congress party in Kerala as such," just two factions of the party, he said. But he firmly dismissed speculation about joining the BJP.
His abrupt resignation comes as a shock for the Congress in Kerala just days before the April 6 state polls.
He announced to the media in Delhi that he had been considering the move for several days. No self-respecting politician could survive in the Congress in Kerala, he said in a series of truth bombs for his party. He added, however, that there was "no question" of him joining the BJP.
"I have quit Congress and sent my resignation to the party's interim chief Sonia Gandhi. I had been deliberating upon this decision for the past many days. I come from Kerala where there's no Congress party as such. There are two parties - Congress (I) and Congress (A). It's a coordination committee of two parties functioning as the Kerala Congress unit," Mr Chacko said.
The "A" group was headed by former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and the "I" group by state chief Ramesh Chennithala and these groups had been active for many years, he said.
"Kerala is facing a crucial election. People want the Congress to come back but there's groupism practiced by top leaders of Congress. I have been arguing with the high command that this should be ended. But the high command is also agreeing to the proposal given by both groups," he alleged, not naming Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi.
Mr Chacko, 74, one of the Congress's top faces and spokespersons, is a former MP from Thrissur in Kerala.
Accusing his party of ignoring state leaders in the selection of candidates for the Kerala polls, Mr Chacko said: "There is no democracy left in Congress. The list of candidates has not been discussed with the state Congress committee. There are no panels for any discussions on polls, winnability of candidates. There have always been factions in parties, even in the Congress, but there is no point anymore."
He wondered caustically whether votes would be counted or announced as "Congress(I) and Congress (A)".
He added: "Being a Congressman is Kerala is very difficult. If you belong to some faction in Congress only then you can survive. The leadership of Congress is not much active."
Mr Chacko's exit is a big and embarrassing one for the party in a state where its top leader and campaigner Rahul Gandhi is an MP.
Incidentally, Mr Chacko had been among those in the Congress seen to be fiercely loyal to the Gandhis. He had last year attacked the group of 23 dissidents, dubbed "G-23", who had called for "full-time and visible leadership" in a leaked letter. He had voiced suspicion that the letter was by those who were opposed to Rahul Gandhi's leadership.
That changed today as he said the G-23 had raised some important questions for the party. "I did not join the G-23 for the sake of the Congress but the questions they raised are extremely important for the party. 'What is happening in Kerala will cost the party in the election," he warned.
A member of the G-23, Anand Sharma, reacted to the comment saying he would not get into the merits of Mr Chacko now supporting the group. There are no groups, Mr Sharma asserted.