Senior leader PC Chacko’s resignation will come as yet another blow to the beleaguered Congress in Kerala, which is weeks away from the assembly election. Only a week ago the party was reeling from the resignation of prominent leaders — including the Pradesh Congress Committee secretary — in Wayanad, the parliamentary constituency of Rahul Gandhi.
At the national level the Congress has been racked by infighting for months, with 23 senior leaders – collectively called the ‘G23’ – regularly taking aim at the high command and questioning their leadership credentials.
On Wednesday Chacko – the former member of Parliament from Thrissur – became the latest to hit out at the leadership, saying: “There is no democracy left in the Congress. The list of candidates has not been discussed with the state Congress committee.”
At a press conference in New Delhi, Chacko, who sent his resignation to party president Sonia Gandhi, said that in Kerala “there is no Congress party as such”.
“There are two parties: Congress (I) and Congress (A). It is a coordination committee of two parties functioning as KPCC.”
Congress (I) is headed by the leader of the opposition Ramesh Chennithala and Congress (A) by former chief minister Oommen Chandy, he said.
The two groups have been active since the days of the late K Karunkaran and senior leader AK Antony, he said. Back then the I group was headed by Karunakaran and the A group by Antony.
Chacko said he hoped his resignation would serve as an eye-opener. “I’m unhappy with the functioning of Kerala Congress. The Congress is becoming weaker and weaker day by day. If my resignation opens the eyes of the party, then I will think my resignation has served the purpose.”
Chacko denied reports that he plans to join the BJP. However, there is speculation that he may choose to align with the Left.
A four-term Lok Sabha MP, Chacko started his political career as an activist of the Congress’ student wing, Kerala Students Union (KSU). He was elected general secretary of the KSU in 1968, then became the president of the Youth Congress in Kerala in 1970. He was first elected to the assembly in 1980.
The election for 140-member assembly will be held on April 6. This time the number of polling booths in Kerala has been increased from 21,498 to 40,771. The counting of votes will be held on May 2. The tenure of the 14th Kerala legislative assembly will come to an end on June 1.