Former Indian footballer Bhaichung Bhutia, who is set to formally launch his political party on Thursday, has said that he is "open to" the idea of a federal front of regional parties but made clear that his priority would be to first defeat the ruling Sikkim Democratic Party.
The SDP has been in power in Sikkim for nearly 25 years.
Bhaichung, who spoke to PTI from Sikkim, said his focus would be to strengthen his Hamro Sikkim Party to oust the state's longest-serving Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and his SDP.
"We are open to a federal front or a third front. But today our focus is to build our party stronger and change the government in Sikkim. Our party would fight the corrupt government of Sikkim," the 41-year-old former striker said.
He said his party is inspired by the Aam Aadmi Party, which governs Delhi. He said the AAP's fight against corruption has brought the party "close to the people".
"In terms of corruption, we were inspired by how the Aam Aadmi Party came up. Compared to Delhi, Sikkim is not a very democratic state. People here are not able to voice their discontent. If they raise their voice against the government, they are victimised. That is one of the biggest challenges in the state," he said.
Bhaichung had contested the 2014 Lok Sabha poll and the 2016 Bengal state election as Trinamool Congress candidate but lost the polls and quit Mamata Banerjee's party in February.
He then formed his political party along with a few friends. Bhaichung said though his political party is youth-based, there are experienced people to guide the new outfit.
"Our main aim is to fight against corruption and the present government, which is extremely corrupt. And also (against) menaces like unemployment and drug abuse," he said.
Winning elections has been tougher than scoring goals for Bhaichung, however, he believes his second innings in the political field would be rather successful as he is the "son of the soil" and understands the problems that hinder the development of Sikkim. PTI CSN ABH ABH