Kerala polls: Chacko joins NCP, pitches for Pawar’s leadership to raise Opposition unity

Chacko joins NCP, pitches for Pawar’s leadership

NEW DELHI:  Former Kerala Congress leader PC Chacko joined the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Tuesday.  

“I am formally joining NCP today,” he said. The 74-year-old is a former Member of Parliament from Kerala’s Thrissur constituency.

He headed the Joint Parliamentary Committee on 2G Spectrum during the UPA government (2009-2014).

On March 10, he announced his decision to quit Congress over the alleged undemocratic way of selecting candidates for the upcoming Assembly polls in Kerala which is scheduled for April 6.

Earlier on Tuesday, he said that he would be meeting Sharad Pawar and a few other leaders.

“Whatever crisis the party is facing, it needs to be discussed. I’m also meeting Sitaram Yechury and Ghulam Nabi Azad to discuss future course of action. I need to extend my support to the LDF (Left Democratic Front of Kerala). I’ll decide (on joining) after meeting Pawar sahib,” he said while talking to media on Tuesday.

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala is looking to replace the Communist-led Left Democratic Front government of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The state, which has never given a second consecutive term to the incumbent chief minister or alliance till now, could throw up a surprise this time.

Chacko was welcomed into the NCP fold by Pawar, senior NCP leaders Praful Patel, Supriya Sule, Sunil Tatkare and others.

Chacko recalled his association with Pawar when both of them were in the Congress.

Prior to Chacko joining the NCP, Pawar met CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

After formally joining the NCP, Chacko said the LDF will return to power in Kerala.

The NCP is a constituent in the LDF in Kerala. Chacko said he will start campaigning for the LDF in a few days. 

Announcing his resignation from the Congress last week, Chacko had alleged group interest in deciding the party’s candidates for the upcoming Kerala Assembly polls.

Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi represents the Wayanad constituency in Kerala in the Lok Sabha.

“What is needed is unity of the opposition. A united opposition should emerge as an alternative to the BJP. I do not see that initiative very much from the party that I was in earlier. I am sure that Pawar sahib, his leadership and contacts will be effective in forging the unity of the opposition,” said Chacko.

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