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DISCONTENT AMONG CONGRESS CADRE

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Intra-party discontent over choice of candidates could pose some initial hiccups for the Congress candidates for Tiruchi and Karur Lok Sabha constituencies, Su.Thirunavukkarasar and S.Jothimani, respectively, as they are set to hit the campaign trail in the coming days.

Although the party’s choice of candidates as such did not come as surprise as they were considered to be front runners to bag the tickets for the constituencies, it has nevertheless caused disappointment among sections of the district Congress committees of Tiruchi and Karur, who had wanted nominees of their choice.

Last week, a section of Tiruchi Urban District Congress Committee had come out openly in support of A. Joseph Louis, son of former Congress strongman and four-time former MP, late L. Adaikalaraj. Led by V. Jawahar, the urban district Congress president, they claimed to have adopted a resolution among themselves favouring Mr.Louis as the candidate and forwarded it to the party high command. They contended that Mr. Louis was the ‘son of soil, friendly and accessible’ and his candidature would spur cadre of the Congress and allies to take up electioneering with enthusiasm.

Though Mr. Jawahar could not be reached on Saturday, local Congress office-bearers say there is a strong feeling of discontent.

“Mr. Thirunavukkarasar did not win too many friends here when he was the TNCC president. Ironically, at one stage Mr. Louis was among the very few persons in Tiruchi to support him during his tenure,” said a former office-bearer of the district unit. Some of the office-bearers felt that much would depend on Mr. Thirunavukkarasar’s approach and he would have to provide a ‘healing touch.’

“Given the current political scenario, Tiruchi is an eminently winnable seat for the party. We hope Mr. Thirunavukkarasar will be able to ensure effective coordination,” said R.C. Babu, former South District Congress president.

In Karur, a section of DCC members had wanted ‘Bank’ K. Subramanian, AICC member, as the candidate and were apparently not in favour of renominating Ms. Jothimani. Considered part of the ‘Rahul brigade,’ Ms. Jothimani had unsuccessfully contested the Assembly election in 2011 and the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Karur. In 2014, she caught the party men off guard by declaring that she had just ₹ 2,400 to fight the election and called upon them to contribute funds. She finished fourth with 30,549 votes.

Conceding that some DCC members had wanted him as the candidate, Mr.Subramanian, who lost to Transport Minister M.R.Vijayabhaskar by a narrow margin of just 441 votes in the 2016 Assembly election, told  that there was discontent among party cadre, who wanted him to be the candidate. But he would abide by the party decision. Asked about the party prospects in the constituency, he said it would entail hard work to overcome the strong challenge from AIADMK’s M. Thambi Durai.

However, Ms. Jothimani sought to downplay the matter and expressed confidence that she will be able to take along the cadre of her party and allies. “It is fair enough. There are bound to be many aspirants for any constituency, not only mine, and there is nothing wrong in it,” she said.

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