CHENNAI: Ending a three-month-long suspense, the Congress high command last week appointed S Thirunavukkarasar, 68, the chief of Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC). That the leadership chose him despite stiff opposition from within the state unit, who cited his ‘political yatra’—he had been too many parties and does not belong to Congress ilk—indicates that Thirunavukkarasar has a tough task ahead in taking all factions on board in managing the party affairs. Coming a month ahead of the local body polls, the new job will test his management skills.
He managed to edge veteran Sudarshan Natchiappan in the race for the top job primarily because of the caste factor. He’s from the majority Thevar community. Congress’ anxiety to court the majority community in the state seems too obvious. Both the new TNCC chief and the party’s CLP leader K R Ramasamy are from the same Thevar caste and the same district. For his part, Thirunavukkarasar appeared confident. “There have never been groups in the state unit. We are all friends, so I will have no difficulty in working with them. I will meet all former TNCC chiefs and other seniors and take decisions in tandem with them and will also meet grassroots level workers.”
A senior TNCC leader said, “No doubt, he is an experienced leader. But he can succeed only if he takes other leaders into confidence.” On the positive side, he is known for his organising skills and sagacity in taking along all those around him.