At a time when the Congress party in Tamil Nadu was on the defensive over the Sri Lankan Tamil issue, Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram sought to expound what the Centre and his party had done on the issue that struck a chord in many hearts in the State.
But Saturday’s meeting became virtually a one-man show, with most senior leaders, including TNCC president B.S. Gnanadesikan, keeping away. The occasion actually succeeded only in exposing more chinks in the armour.
Seated along with Congress MP K.S. Alagiri and his son Karti Chidambaram, Mr. Chidambaram himself clarified at the outset that he “had to organise the meeting on his own” as the Congress-led UPA government could not get a proper opportunity – either in the Parliament or on a public platform – to convey to the people properly what it had done for the Sri Lankan Tamils.
“Hence I have become the organiser and the speaker. But the meeting is not a show of strength by any one faction,” he insisted.
Many close associates of Mr. Chidambaram, however, alleged that the TNCC had failed to properly articulate the party’s stance on Sri Lanka, leaving it defenceless in the face of motivated criticism.
But a former Congress MP maintained that the alleged inaction on the part of the TNCC was a lame excuse. Indeed it was very much a Chidambaram show, they had kept out all leaders not kowtowing to him, he claimed.
TNCC president Mr. Gnanadesikan sought to deflect all criticism and maintained that the Finance Minister was not actually the Congress organisation for failing to take the message to the people, but was only pointing to the lack of a common platform on Sri Lanka and other important issues.
“Besides, the allegation that the TNCC failed to organise public meetings on the issue has no basis, as I myself had conducted seven such meetings, and all the Union Ministers from Tamil Nadu attended them,” Mr. Gnanadesikan noted.
He, however, conceded the Congress as an organisation was in a precarious situation of sorts today, as it was functioning without office-bearers whether at the State-level or at the district-level. In such a situation it was indeed difficult to organise public meetings regularly, he contended.
“The high-command is yet to appoint new office-bearers and district presidents. I sent a list for perusal by the high command as early as April after consulting all senior leaders to Delhi and it was cleared. But in the meantime, Mr. Mukul Wasnik replaced Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad as the AICC general secretary in-charge-of Tamil Nadu, so the list is pending with him,” said Mr Gnandesikan.
He expressed the hope that the list would be out by first week of December.