Gnanadesikan breaks down over charges of misuse of campaign funds

The rift between factions in the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee deepened Saturday, with supporters of the former Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, skipping a meeting of the office-bearers.

The meeting was called by TNCC president B.S. Gnanadesikan to analyse the reasons for the party’s debacle in the recent Lok Sabha polls.

Sources said many of the functionaries wanted Mr. Gnanadesikan to initiate action against those who were absent from the meeting, with some holding Mr. Chidambaram’s policies, when he was Union Finance Minister, responsible for the party’s defeat nationwide.

Later, at a press conference, Mr. Gnanadesikan said he had taken note of the views of the partymen, and they would be placed on the right forum. At the same time, he said, he was not averse to talking to Mr. Chidambaram to break the deadlock.

The meeting witnessed some emotional scenes with Mr. Gnanadesikan breaking down over charges of misuse of funds allocated by the high command for election expenses.

Sources said he felt disturbed by the allegations made recently by Pollachi candidate K. Selvaraj, questioning a grading process for funds allocation to various contestants based on their chances of victory.

Mr. Gnanadesikan told the office-bearers that he had no role to play in funds distribution, and he had never compromised on personal integrity. Furthermore, he said, he was not looking to retain his post and would step down if the high command wanted.

Meanwhile, H. Vasanth Kumar, the only candidate of the party to save deposit, accused partymen of non-cooperation. He said some had allegedly taken money from rival candidates and stayed away from campaign. A complaint was also given to Mr. Gnanadesikan by Mr. Vasantha Kumar, a source said.

Several others also raised the issue of district functionaries not campaigning hard in their constituencies.

Many speakers came down on the high command for not keeping the TNCC leadership in the loop during the alliance talks. At the end, they said, the DMK took advantage of the situation and left the Congress in the lurch, forcing it to face the fallout of the 2G spectrum scam.

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