Senior leaders’ reluctance to enter fray dampened their spirit

Undeterred by the party’s failure to forge a formidable alliance and by the outcome of the 1998 polls when the party faced a drubbing contesting alone, Congress candidates of central districts are making a brave effort to make their presence felt among voters.

The significant feature of the campaigning by the Congress candidates is their bold experiment to take up the issue of the Sri Lankan Tamils and questioning the move of the State government to release those involved in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. The refusal of the major regional parties in the State to align with the Congress caused much disappointment to the party cadre. Moreover, the refusal of senior leaders and Union Ministers to jump into the fray led to resentment.

Understanding the mood of the cadre and energise them to take up campaigning to match the rivals in the State, the Congress nominees got down to the work from the very next day of the announcement of their names.

The former Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, in anticipation of his nomination, launched the campaign in Mayiladuthurai constituency even before the party finalised the names. Apart from Mr. Aiyar, the Congress candidates S. Jothimani, national secretary of Mahila Congress and a close associate of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi (Karur), Sarubala R. Tondaiman (Tiruchi), T. Krishnaswami Vandayar (Thanjavur), and M. Rajasekaran (Perambalur) too commenced their campaign in right earnest organising party workers meetings and meeting the voters.

The presence of Su. Thirunavukkarasar, the veteran of many electoral wins, hailing from Aranthangi in the neighbouring Pudukottai district in Ramanathapuram constituency, has proved to be a morale-booster to the party workers of the central region.

The candidates have brought out brochures and pamphlets explaining the various achievements of the Congress-led coalition Government at the Centre in the last one decade including Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, four laning of national highways, Indira Gandhi Memorial Housing Scheme, Indira Gandhi Pension scheme for senior citizens, Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Development Scheme, introduction of Right to Information Act, Food Protection Act, extension of farm loans, and educational loans.

Pamphlets

The pamphlets brought out by Mr. Rajasekaran, Congress candidate for Perambalur, explains the assistance of Rs. 10,000 crores extended by Manmohan Singh Government for the implementation of the Indian Housing Project for the benefit of displaced Tamils of the island nation. The pamphlets remind the sacrifices made by the Gandhis besides questioning the rationale behind the State government’s move to release the Rajiv Gandhi killers.