The Congress, after dilly-dallying on the matter, officially announced that Karti Chidambaram, who is facing a plethora of cases from the ED and the I-T departments, as its candidate from the Sivaganga constituency. Sudarsana Natchiappan flew into a rage, as he claimed that he was the one those members, who was promised a ticket by the high command.
Sivaganga: On the one side is Congress's Karti Chidambaram, the son of former Union minister P Chidambaram. Pitted against him is another former Union minister Sudarsana Natchiappan. As it happens, also of the Congress.
It is one of those wretched internal party feuds that Tamil Nadu Congress has become infamous for.
The Congress, after dilly-dallying on the matter, officially announced that Karti Chidambaram, who is facing a plethora of cases from the ED and the I-T departments, as its candidate from the Sivaganga constituency, where he incidentally lost badly in 2014 elections. He finished a poor fourth and also lost his deposit.
No sooner was Karti's name out last night, than Sudarsana Natchiappan flew into a rage, as the latter claimed that he was the one those members, who was promised a ticket by the high command.
Sivaganga is a well-known Chettinad town, 50 kms from Madurai. The Chidambaram family and Natchiappan belong to the community of Chettiars.
Natchiappan, as a Congress candidate in 1999, had defeated Karti's dad P Chidambaram in the same constituency, when the latter was a member of the Tamil Maanila Congress (a breakaway party led by the veteran GK Moopanar).
It is well known that there is no love lost between the Chidambarams and Natchiappan. In fact, the sharp bickering between the two were what delayed the Congress from naming a candidate for the Sivaganga seat. The Congress released the names of the candidates for the seats it is contesting from in Tamil Nadu a few days ago, but held back the name for Sivaganga because dad Chidambaram kept fighting for his son with the high command, despite the fact that several high-profile cases, including that of money laundering, are pending against Karti in the courts.
Natchiappan is not holding himself back, and he alleges that the Chidambarams are working overtime to prevent his political rise.
"My name was in the list and was about to be announced along with others. That was why I was asked to be present in Delhi and later was told to reach Chennai to file my nomination papers. But Chidambaram intervened and ensured that his son was given the seat,” he was quoted as saying in The Hindu.
Natchiappan is incredulous that the high command could give the party ticket to the tainted Karti. Natchiappan is in a no-holds-barred mood. He says Chidambaram is sabotaging the party and its fights against corruption. "People hate his family in Tamil Nadu. The cadres are disappointed. Chidambaram's family has done nothing for the constituency, and instead they have accumulated wealth."
But they carry more than a smidgeon of truth. The whole unseemly fracas also reflects how poorly the high command has handled the situation and how the party is still controlled by a few old vested interests.
The mood among the party cadre in Sivaganga is one of disappointment. They felt that the party had more than a good chance in the constituency, as the BJP's choice is H Raja, a controversial leader, who tends to polarise opinions in the state.
"We were brimming with hope that we can pull off a victory. But the fight between the two powerful leaders has been a dampener. Now it will be very difficult, as people are not fools. They are watching this shameful slugfest," said a local party activist.
Kamal Haasan's Makkal Needhi Maiam has fielded lyricist Snehan from Sivaganga. He should fancy his chances now as the Congress's house is not in order and the BJP has put up a contentious candidate.
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Last Updated Mar 25, 2019, 5:37 PM IST