In a blow to the Congress in poll bound Kerala, senior leader P C Chacko on Wednesday announced his resignation from the party, alleging group interest in deciding party candidates for the coming assembly elections.
Chacko, who was a former working committee member of the Congress, is the second senior leader to quit the national party after Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Scindia joined the Bharatiya Janata Party after his resignation over differences with Congress's Madhya Pradesh state leadership.
Amid demand from a group of 23 senior Congress leaders for an organisational overhaul of the party, Chacko, who headed the Joint Parliamentary Committee on 2G Spectrum during the second United Progressive Alliance rule, also alleged that the national leadership of the party has not been active for the last two years.
He, however, did not announce his future plans but made it clear on his views on the BJP, saying the saffron party "is not a political factor" in the southern state.
"I have sent my resignation letter to Congress president (Sonia Gandhi) and to Rahul Gandhi.
This decision, I have been deliberating for the last many days", Chacko told a press conference in New Delhi, announcing his decision to quit over alleged undemocratic ways in selection of candidates for the assembly polls.
"No democracy left in Congress. Candidate list has not been discussed with the state Congress committee," he alleged.
Hitting out at the leadership of the two groups in Kerala's Congress party--"A" group headed by former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and "I" group led by senior party leader Ramesh Chennithala, Chacko alleged that only Chandy and Chennithala know who all are being fielded as the party's candidates in April 6 Kerala assembly polls.
"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 KPCC," Chacko alleged.
The two groups have been active in the state unit of Congress since the period of veteran leader and late K Karunakaran and senior leader AK Antony.
While the A group was then headed by Antony, the I group was led by Karunakaran.
As the discussions between state Congress leadership and representatives of the party high command on deciding party candidates are progressing in New Delhi, Chacko said the high command is "agreeing with the proposals given by both the groups".
“This groupism is the biggest bane of the Congress party in Kerala. Kerala is facing a very crucial election and in this election, the people want the Congress to come back. But, the stumbling block is the groupism which is practiced by top leaders of the Congress party", said Chacko, who was a former Lok Sabha MP from Kerala.
Chacko, who was also a former state minister, said he had been continuously arguing with the high command to put an end to the groupism in the state but failed.
"Unfortunately, the high command is also agreeing with the proposals given by both the groups (a reference to "A" and "I" groups)", he alleged.
"Today in Kerala, nobody can be a Congressman", Chacko said.
He further alleged that the "high command is a mute witness to this disastrous situation (groupism) and there is no remedy other than submitting my resignation".
Referring to the period of vacuum created in the party's national leadership after Rahul Gandhi quit the post of Congress president following the party's defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Chacko said, "the Congress had been headless for the last one-and-a-half years".
There was no one in the party at the national level, Chacko said, recalling the situation that forced Sonia Gandhi, who is facing health issues, to take leadership of the party.
He said the Congress working committee, in which he had been a member, had unanimously requested Rahul Gandhi to withdraw his resignation but he did not yield.
Kerala's Congress leadership has not reacted to Chacko's allegations.
Asked about his future plan including his views on the BJP, Chacko said his assessment is that the saffron party is not going to make any gain in Kerala.
"In Kerala, BJP is not a factor. They cannot win. Minds of Kerala people are not in favour of BJP", he said.
He said the Left parties are always fighting against the BJP and they have always supported the Congress.
"I don't think that essentially, ideologically we are enemies. But we are fighting as political enemies. That fight will continue", Chacko said.
Responding to Chacko's allegations of groupism, Congress national spokesperson Pawan Khera alleged that the leader from Kerala was the one who had encouraged groupism in the Delhi unit of the party when he was its party in-charge.
Tagging Chacko's statement on groupism in Kerala party on Twitter, Khera wrote, "Says a man who actively encouraged and promoted groupism in Delhi. Huzoor jaate jaate der kar di (took too long to leave)."
Chacko had quit as Delhi Congress in-charge after the party’s drubbing in the assembly elections there last year. He later shifted to Kerala.