Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cong retains most MLAs for Tamil Nadu elections


NEW DELHI: Congress has retained most MLAs to fight the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu. Congress president Sonia Gandhi , who had insisted that party seniors who have served more than two terms in the assembly should make way for the younger lot, played it safe after she sensed that trouble was brewing in the state unit. 

Had this logic been followed, MLAs like Peter Alphonse, Ramasamy, C Gnanasekaran and D Yasodha would not have got another chance. Other prominent names in the list of 60 candidates released on Wednesday include All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary and MLA K Jayakkumar and former Union Minister S Thirunavukarasur. 

The latter was with AIADMK and BJP before joining Congress . Only five MLAs whose constituencies saw a major change during delimitation have been left out of the list. The party, which is contesting 63 seats in the April 13 Assembly elections, has still not announced candidates for Poonamalee , Tirupur South and Ramanathapuram . At least six women have been given tickets including Gayathri Devi, D Yashodha , Haseena Syed, Jothi Mani and S Vijayadharani apart from Jayanthi Thangabalu. 

Despite a rebellion within its ranks against state unit president K Thangkabalu , Congress seems to have accommodated his candidates, including his wife, in the list. Interestingly, Congress has favoured Thangkabalu's wife, Jayanthi, in Mylapore constituency over MLA S Ve Shekher. 

Shekher was elected as an AIADMK nominee in 2006 Assembly elections but was expelled for alleged anti-party activities . After joining Congress, he was hoping for a ticket from Mylapore. Congress has been allotted five of 16 seats in Chennai out of the 63 earmarked for it under the seat-sharing deal. 

In the last elections, Congress was allotted 48 seats. In 2006, when Chennai had only 14 seats, Congress was given RK Nagar, where it lost. Central Election Committee had almost finalised the list of candidates in its Monday meeting. However, Congress MPs rejected the selection process. Six of the eight Lok Sabha MPs met the Congress president on Tuesday and formally lodged their protest. 

They accused Thangkabalu of ignoring winnable candidates and pushing through his own list. Members even indicated that they would not campaign for the party if Thangkabalu's list is not reviewed. The central committee was forced to sit all over again on Tuesday and review the list. Finally, Congress played it safe and gave most MLAs another chance

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