CHENNAI: The National Herald case against Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi has drastically changed the equation in Tamil Nadu Congress, with former Union minister P Chidambaram getting back into the good books of the high command, and becoming the party’s voice across national media.
The change was visible during the flood relief distribution in Chennai, where Rahul Gandhi showed a sudden warmth and cordiality towards Chidambaram, who had distanced himself from party activities ever since TNCC president EVKS Elangovan had gained an iron grip over the State unit.
Rahul, who met Chidambaram at the airport, asked the senior leader to accompany him during his visits to the flood-hit areas. According to the jubilant supporters of Chidambaram, the Congress vice-president offered to take the former in his own flight to New Delhi, in case Chidambaram missed his evening flight. The senior leader accompanied Rahul in the latter’s car.
Chidambaram, who went to New Delhi, has become busy taking up the mantle of defending the Congress leaders in the National Herald case. He is acting as a bridge between the Congress leaders and the media, and spending his time countering the arguments of BJP stalwarts like Arun Jaitley. His supporters claimed that the senior leader has gained proximity to the party leadership and is interacting with them on a daily basis, getting their inputs and giving his suggestions on the National Herald case.
During 2014 Parliamentary election, when the grand old party had not a single ally, Chidambaram had refused to contest the polls, earning the dissatisfaction of the high command. After former Union minister GK Vasan quit the Congress and his supporter BS Gnanadesikan, who was the TNCC president, went along with him, EVKS Elangovan was nominated by the high command, without consulting any of the senior leaders, including Chidambaram.
Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram, who is a bitter critic of Elangovan, was at the receiving end of harsh attacks from Elangovan, who seemed to have silenced all the voices against him. Chidambaram was one of the leaders who met Sonia and Rahul to complain against Elangovan’s style of functioning. But, the high command refused to make any leadership change as the Assembly elections are only a few months away.
Congress insiders say the prominence gained by Chidambaram in Delhi is likely to have an impact on Elangovan’s dominance. Even if Elangovan is not removed from TNCC leadership, Chidambaram’s supporters hope to bag a lion’s share during ticket distribution for the Assembly polls. Elangovan may not be able to deny tickets for MLA seats to Chidambaram’s loyalists.