Special Correspondent

In Thottiyam Assembly constituency

TIRUCHI: The Congress high command has put to rest the controversy over the selection of candidate for the Thottiyam Assembly constituency in this district by replacing its nominee P. Christopher Selvaraj with the president of the Tiruchi north district unit M. Rajasekaran (43).

The nomination of Mr. Selvaraj led to much resentment among Congress cadres, who felt that he was a rank outsider and had nothing to do with this rural constituency, which was represented by the Labour Welfare Minister, P. Annavi, in the present regime.

Mr. Selvaraj had unsuccessfully contested on the party ticket in the Tiruchi II seat in the 2001 elections.

The hopes of the Congress workers of winning this seat here got revived when the constituency was allotted to the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) in the AIADMK-led front. But the naming of Mr. Selvaraj led to confusion and the cadres were vociferously demanding replacement of the candidate to salvage the prestige of the party.

Mr. Rajasekaran, hailing from Tirupparaithurai village, was the party's nominee for Srirangam seat in the 1989 Assembly elections and for the Tiruchi Parliamentary constituency in the 1999 elections. On both occasions, he could not taste success. Mr. Rajasekar commenced his campaign in right earnest by garlanding the statue of former Chief Minister Kamaraj at the Arunachalam Mandram, the district party headquarters here on Sunday. He said that he had started meeting leaders and cadres of the Congress and other fraternal parties and felt that he was confident of victory.

He said all Congressmen have assured to work for his success. "There is still adequate time left for campaigning," he said when questioned about loss of time.

He will take on the secretary of the Tiruchi rural district unit of the MDMK R. Natarajan.

Meanwhile, the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam has replaced its Tiruchi I candidate Sasikala Murugesan with P. Uma, the district women's wing deputy secretary.