Days after he quit the Congress in protest against candidate selection in Kerala, veteran politician P C Chacko on Tuesday joined the NCP and said he will campaign for Left candidates in Kerala Assembly polls.
Chacko said the need of the hour is to forge an alternative to BJP but he does not see the Congress taking that initiative.
“I am happy to be part of a party which is functioning, active and a party moving with a direction,” he told reporters after joining NCP. “Today, what is needed is unity of the Opposition…as an alternative to BJP. I do not see that initiative very much from the party that I was in earlier. I am sure that (NCP chief) Sharad Pawar, his leadership, contacts will be most effective in forging the Opposition unity against the misdeeds of BJP.”
Chacko was welcomed into NCP by Pawar and senior party leaders Praful Patel and Supriya Sule.
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Chacko also said he had met two of the letter-writers in the Congress, including Ghulam Nabi Azad, before joining NCP. “We met just as friends – I cannot say what we discussed. Being old colleagues I wanted to meet them because they have their opinion and no one knows whether the party is going to receive their opinion or reject it…since they have expressed an independent opinion I thought I must meet them,” he said.
Azad is among the 23 senior Congress leaders who wrote to party chief Sonia Gandhi last year seeking reforms in the party.
The NCP being a part of the CPI(M)-led LDF in Kerala, Chacko said he will campaign for the Left in the Assembly polls. “For the next 18 days, I will visit all 14 districts of Kerala in support of LDF,” he told The Indian Express.
He met CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury before formally joining the NCP.
Chacko, Congress sources said, was miffed over not being given a Rajya Sabha seat. A senior party leader told The Indian Express that he had approached the party central leadership in February with a request to consider him for a vacancy in the Upper House that will arise in the state in April.
Three Rajya Sabha MPs from Kerala – Muslim League’s Abdul Wahab, CPI(M)’s K K Ragesh and Congress’s Vayalar Ravi — are retiring in April but Congress sources said the party had already promised the one seat the Congress-led UDF is in a position to win to the Muslim League.
Chacko’s joining the NCP is in a way his reunion with Sharad Pawar.
When the Congress had split in 1979, Chacko and A K Antony had sided with veteran leader Devaraj Urs. The breakaway party was called Congress (U), which became Congress (S) when Pawar became the party president.
In 1980, the breakaway faction joined the LDF government in Kerala and Chacko became the Industries Minister.
Chacko and others returned to the Congress after the death of Indira Gandhi. “When Rajiv Gandhi became the president of AICC, he made a suggestion that all erstwhile Congress people should come back. He requested Pawar and me and all breakaway factions of the Congress to come together. So in Aurangabad, Pawar’s party merged with the Congress,” Chacko told The Indian Express.
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