Former chief minister of Chhattisgarh Ajit Jogi on Monday announced his decision to form a new political party after leaving the Congress, to “free the state from the Raman Singh government” and to stop Chhattisgarh’s natural resources from being exploited. “Our state has enormous amounts of natural resources. Ours is one of the richest lands, but no one is getting its benefits. I want to stop this plunder,” he said.

The veteran politician abstained from attacking the Congress, asking MLAs who support him to not quit the party, and even indicated the possibility of a reconciliation, The Hindu reported. However, the Congress removed Jogi from the Congress Working Committee and from his role as the chief of the party’s national scheduled tribe cell.

Jogi announced his plans at a public meeting in Kotami village in his constituency Marwahi. Before the announcement, close aide and former MLA Dharamjeet Singh read out Jogi’s seven-point “Kotami Declaration” to the public. “A new party will be formed under the leadership of Ajit Jogi. We will form our own government in 2018 and send 10 members to Lok Sabha [in 2019] to raise Chhattisgarh’s voice,” Singh said.

While Jogi claimed he had the support of 15 legislators, only four MLAs were present at the meeting. He said he would announce the name, flag and symbol of the party after taking people’s opinions, but he did not mention when his new possible party will be launched.

Jogi’s announcement follows news of another senior Congress leader’s resignation from the party. Former Union minister Gurudas Kamat on Monday said he was resigning from the Congress party and retiring from politics altogether. Both Jogi and Kamat's resignations have raised speculation about whether senior Congress leaders are starting to lose faith in the party.