PC Chacko (right) joins NCP in presence of Sharad Pawar (Photo: ANI)
Former Congress leader PC Chacko formally joined the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on March 16. His switch over comes days after he resigned from the primary membership of the Congress party.
"I am formally joining the NCP today. NCP is part of the Left Democratic Front in Kerala. Once again, I am back in the LDF as a part of NCP," news agency ANI quoted Chacko as saying.
Chacko was accompanied by Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Sitaram Yechury at the press briefing in Delhi, where he confirmed his decision to join the NCP. The CPI(M) leads the ruling LDF coalition in Kerala of which NCP is a part.
Chacko was formally inducted into the NCP in presence of party president Sharad Pawar and former Union minister Praful Patel.
READ: Exclusive: PC Chacko to join Sharad Pawar's NCP today, will campaign for LDF in Kerala
In his first remarks after his entry into the NCP fold, he targeted the Centre-ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
"Today, the need is the unity of the opposition. A united opposition should emerge as an alternative to the BJP. I don't see that initiative in the party which I was a member of earlier," Chacko said.
Pawar, welcoming the entry of Chacko into his party, said Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has also appreciated his entry into the LDF.
"Kerala CM called me and told me that the Left is happy with PC Chacko joining the NCP," he said.
The 74-year-old Chacko has been associated with Kerala's politics for the last four decades. A four-term Lok Sabha MP, his exit from the Congress comes days before the assembly polls in which the United Democratic Front (UDF) is considered as the prime challenger the Vijayan-led LDF.
Also, read: Congress leader PC Chacko resigns from party, alleges groupism in Kerala unit
The Left Democratic Front (LDF), the ruling alliance of left-wing political parties in Kerala, is contesting the April 6 assembly polls against United Democratic Front (UDF) - the Congress-led opposition coalition.
In an exclusive conversation with Moneycontrol, Chacko claimed that the factionalism with the Congress' state unit was one of the reasons behind him quitting the party.
Outside Kerala as well, the party has lost direction, he said, adding that the Congress is failing to fulfil the role of the largest opposition party.
"Overall, I do not think the Congress has got a systematic functioning, even at the top. People wanted Rahul Gandhi to be president of the party but he is refusing. It has literally become headless party," he said.
While Chacko would be supporting the Left-led coalition, he reiterated his decision to not to join the communists or the BJP. "I have to be with the party that has a Congress culture," he said before joining the NCP.
The switch over of Chacko provides a boost to the LDF in Kerala, which is predicted to return to power as per the opinion polls. The 140 seats of the coastal state would be contested in a single-phase election on April 6.