CHENNAI: For the last three days, there is an uneasy question among cadres of GK Vasan-led Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC).Vasan had on Friday said his party was in talks to join the AIADMK-BJP alliance for the Lok Sabha polls. The idea of joining an alliance in which BJP is a part has made many wonder whether Vasan is deviating from his father GK Moopanar’s commitment to ideals of secularism.
Old timers recalled how TMC founder Moopanar refused to budge to support the BJP-led government in 1999 trust vote in Lok Sabha, ultimately leading to the collapse of the Vajpayee government then for want of just one vote. Moopanar stood his ground that he was committed to secularism and will never support BJP, even amidst pressure from his then close ally, the late DMK leader M Karunanidhi. This was despite the fact that Moopanar formed the party only to support the DMK in the 1996 general elections.
When Vasan again quit Congress in 2014 and revived the legacy of his father by forming TMC (Moopanar), many from Tamil Nadu unit of Congress joined the new party. But the party got nothing to boast of in the 2016 elections. After being rejected from AIADMK-led alliance at the last minute, the party finally joined the People’s Welfare Front. The alliance failed to win even a single seat. This election season too, TMC was one of the few parties that is yet to finalise the alliance which is seen as an indication of the poor bargaining power of the party.
Vasan’s remarks have raised concerns as the move comes at a time when many parties committed to secularism are flocking to Congress to defeat BJP.GK Murali, state general secretary of Tamil Nadu Farmers’ Wing of Congress told Express, “It will be against the sentiments of the real Congress cadre and Moopanar loyalists as he had remained a loyalist of the Nehru family. Vasan will lose his cadre if he joins an alliance in which BJP is present. Many TMC(M) cadre have started switching their loyalty to Congress in the last two days.”
However, a few others are supportive of Vasan’s decision. A senior TMC functionary said, “We are a regional party, not a national party. We take our decision based on what is good for the State. So for as we are concerned, AIADMK is the only choice since we were not offered space in the DMK-Congress alliance,” he said.
“Former union minister P Chidambaram, who is now one of the frontline leaders in Congress, was part of the DMK-BJP alliance in 2001 Assembly elections. He was then functioning under the banner Congress Jananayaka Peravai.
Similarly, Vazhappadi K Ramamurthy, a former TNCC president, enjoyed a cabinet berth twice in the BJP-led union government. Hence, we are not new from the Congress family to get into an alliance with BJP,” he said.
Tamil Maanila Congress (Moopanar) was launched in April, 1996
Merged with Indian National Congress in 2002
Relaunched TMC (Moopanar) in November, 2014
A district-level functionary of TMC said the party was justified in joining the AIADMK-BJP alliance citing that even DMK, which is committed to the ideals of Periyar, had joined hands with the BJP in the past.