Party has meagre strength in Assembly and has not been able to forge alliance in the State

Failure to forge an alliance with any significant party in Tamil Nadu is a new challenge to many senior Congress leaders, that of finding their way to either House of Parliament.

Union Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan, for instance, had made it to the Rajya Sabha for the first time in 2002 and again in 2007.

On both the occasions, the Congress had adequate numbers or support of the allies in the Tamil Nadu Assembly. But this time, the Congress has five MLAs and the DMK refused to support him.

State Congress leaders note that in the past, former Union Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) leader B.S. Gnanadesikan and even G.K. Moopanar could sail through to the Rajya Sabha only on alliance strength.

“Today, we are facing an entirely different situation; Rajya Sabha is closed for us because of our meagre strength and because there’s no alliance. Now in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls too we could be left high and dry,” said a senior Congress leader.

Mr. Vasan may enter the fray from Mayiladuthurai constituency, a strong Congress bastion, held earlier by Mani Shankar Aiyar. He is also considering the South Chennai constituency.

Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, who won almost all elections from the Sivaganga constituency, barring in 1999 when the erstwhile Tamil Maanila Congress had the support of only two Dalit parties, now finds it tough.

There are talks about his planning to contest from Puducherry. But sources close to him denied any such possibility.

Former MP Peter Alphonse, a native of Tirunelveli district, now prefers any of the Chennai constituencies, as he is a voter in the Capital, but he might not turn down an opportunity to contest from his own district.

Asked about the scurrying around, a Congress leader noted defensively that the situation in the DMK was not much different.

Former Minister T.R. Baalu who used to contest from South Chennai and Sriperumbudur constituencies, has been nursing Thanjavur for a while now, hoping to bag a ticket there.

His supporters say he has brought four Railway projects, besides a sports complex and many other schemes.

But then Thanjavur is presently represented by former Union Minister S.S. Palanimanickam, who would want to contest from there.

Mr. Baalu is apparently insisting that he will not contest from anywhere else.

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