Senior Congress leader PC Chacko, a former Lok Sabha MP from Thrissur district in Kerala, quit the party on Wednesday, ANI reported. His resignation came less than a month before Assembly elections in the state.

Chacko said there was “groupism” within the Congress. He also complained that there was no democracy left in the party, according to NDTV.

“Kerala is facing a crucial election,” Chacko told ANI. “People want [the] Congress to come back but there is groupism practiced by top leaders of Congress. I have been arguing with high command that this should be ended.”

Chacko alleged that the Congress high command was being a “mute witness to this disaster”. “Congress is a great tradition,” he said, according to ANI. “Being a Congress man is a prestigious thing but today in Kerala nobody can be a Congress man. One can belong to either ‘I group’ or ‘A group’. So I decided to call it a day.”

Chacko accused the Congress of ignoring leaders in Kerala in choosing candidates for the Assembly elections, NDTV reported. “There is no democracy left in the Congress,” he said. “The list of candidates has not been discussed with the state Congress committee. I have sent my resignation to Sonia Gandhi.”

Chacko added that being a Congress leader in Kerala was very difficult. He claimed that a party member can “survive” only if one belonged to a faction in the Congress. “The leadership of the Congress is not much active,” he said.

The senior politician said he hoped his resignation will be an eye-opener for the party, News18 reported. “I’m unhappy with the functioning of the Congress in Kerala,” he said. “The Congress is becoming weaker and weaker day by day, if my resignation opens the eye of the party, then I will think my resignation has served the purpose.”

When asked about his future plans, including his views on the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress leader said the saffron party is not going to make any gains in Kerala, reported PTI. “In Kerala, BJP is not a factor,” he said. “They cannot win. Minds of Kerala people are not in favour of BJP.”

Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma dismissed Chacko’s allegations of groupism in the Kerala party unit, reported The Tribune. “There are no two groups in the Congress,” Sharma said. “It is one Congress and its president is Sonia Gandhi. Right now the only objective before the party is to fight elections together to defeat the BJP and other opponents.”

Sharma added that there should be no wrong impression that the Congress will not fight these elections together.

Congress national spokesperson Pawan Khera also hit back at Chacko, alleging that it was he who had encouraged groupism in the Delhi unit of the party when he was its in-charge. “Took you too much time to leave,” Khera tweeted. Chacko had quit as Delhi Congress in-charge after the party’s loss in Assembly elections in the national Capital last year. He later shifted to Kerala.

Congress MP of Ernakulam Hibi Eden told ANI that Chacko did not make a wise decision by quitting the party when it was contesting an important election. “He is a very senior Congress leader who has been given ample opportunities by Central leadership,” Eden said. “He’s a valuable asset for INC [Indian National Congress].”

Elections for 140 Assembly seats in Kerala will take place in a single phase on April 6. The votes will be counted on May 2.