Faced with the prospect of a lonely election, the Congress in Tamil Nadu will be fielding candidates striking a fine balance between youth and experienced leaders. While most of the sitting MPs are likely to be repeated, a number of young leaders, aged between 35 and 55, are also being given preference.
According to high level sources, the party’s screening committee has cleared names of almost all sitting MPs, barring P Chidambaram, as he wanted to pass the baton on to the youth in the party. In his place, his son Karti Chidambaram is likely to get a ticket, the source added.
Also among the new entrants who are likely to be in the fray, is P R Kumaramangalam’s son Mohan Kumaramangalam. His name is said to have been cleared by the screening committee for Salem, his father’s old seat. It will be home-coming of sorts as Ranga had left the grand old party for BJP and became a minister in the A B Vajpayee government.
Similarly, C R Kesavan, Rajaji’s grandson, is likely to be fielded from Chennai Central. Among the party’s old guard, Mani Shankar Aiyar is most likely to re-enter the fray from Mayiladuthurai, a constituency he has been nursing even while being a nominated member in Rajya Sabha. If he also gets the party high command nod at the Central Election Committee meeting on Tamil Nadu, he’ll have a rather tough contest ahead give the fact that it’s now an AIADMK stronghold and the Congress has no alliance to add to its basic arithmetical strength.
Sources said Rahul Gandhi is more keen to try out the ground in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, the two states in which the party has no alliance, in a manner that future leadership for the party can be raised and nurtured.
In fact, that was one of reasons why Karti’s name was cleared by the screening committee. It was felt that a young candidate like him would fight the elections with more vigour than the reluctant older generation.