Acknowledging that the Congress is left without allies in Tamil Nadu, Union Shipping Minister G K Vasan on Tuesday hinted that his party would field candidates in all 39 constituencies in the State.
Though not an official announcement, Vasan’s statement on the matter comes a day after he expressed
reservations over the tardiness of his party’s high command in finalising the poll strategy for the Congress in Tamil Nadu.
“I will not be contesting in the coming elections. I will be working to ensure an increase in the vote share for the Congress. I will tour all 39 constituencies to campaign for the party’s candidates,” said Vasan, speaking to reporters after holding discussions with his supporters.
Vasan does not officially have any role in the State unit of the party, which is, however, controlled by his loyalist, B S Gnanadesikan. He has, for weeks, been saying the announcement of the party’s course of action in the Lok Sabha polls would come from the high command.
By hinting at the party’s strategy, Vasan has also made his bid at posturing himself as the face of the party’s State unit, which is the scene of fierce competition between various factions.
Vasan loyalists, who now control key posts in the State unit, perpetually tussle with supporters of Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram and former TNCC president K V Thangkabalu among others.
Vasan’s announcement that he would not be contesting the polls is on expected lines.
The leader is nearing the end of his second term in the Rajya Sabha, and has never fought an election in his political career. His decision not to enter the fray this time around could also have been influenced by the fact that in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, then TNCC chief Thangkabalu had lost the fight despite being in an alliance with the DMK and the VCK.
Chidambaram, however, would be looking to extend the legitimacy of his influence in the party’s State unit, and is expected to contest the poll from the Sivaganga constituency, where he is incumbent.
Vasan also hit out at all other political parties for not wanting to associate themselves with the Congress, accusing them of opportunism. “Some of the parties were with us for a long time and enjoyed their share of power, and have deserted us in the end stage. The voters of the State will definitely take that into consideration. When the results are announced and our vote share becomes apparent, they will regret not having allied with us,” said Vasan.
His loyalists, who even last week had been talking with a bit of bluster, are now toning down their rhetoric. They say their leader has already turned his attention to the 2016 Assembly elections.