Lok Sabha Election

T.N. tally boosts Congress’ overall performance

Mukul Wasnik, M.K. Stalin, K.S. Alagiri and K.C. Venugopal in Chennai. File photo

Mukul Wasnik, M.K. Stalin, K.S. Alagiri and K.C. Venugopal in Chennai. File photo

The Congress in Tamil Nadu won 8 out of 9 seats in the Lok Sabha polls — one of its best performances in the State in the last decade. It also bagged the Puducherry Lok Sabha seat. Leaders believe the party was buoyed by the ‘unification’ of multiple factions, and its wins in Tamil Nadu increased the party’s total tally in the country.

The Tamil Nadu Congress’s performance is a revival of sorts for the party. This was made possible by the relentless groundwork of the party’s new leadership and the All India Congress Committee’s in-charge for Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, Sanjay Dutt, and his team, which had toured the length and breadth of T.N. and Puducherry, meeting party cadre and revitalising the district units.

“We went to every district, we understood the districts, did a SWOT analysis and gathered information on the political perspectives prevailing in the districts and also on other parties’ strengths. The focus was on constituting the booth committees,” Mr. Dutt said.

The sudden change of guard on February 2 took everybody by surprise, but everyone settled down quickly. K.S. Alagiri was appointed president of the TNCC, replacing Su. Thirunavukkarasar, in a move that seemed like it could split the cadre into factions yet again. Surprisingly, all the factions of the TNCC fell in line and started campaigning on the field.

“The Congress went into the polls as a unified force. We took the initiative to bring all senior leaders on board, also at the district level,” Mr. Dutt said. For his part, Mr. Alagiri said there were multiple factors that worked in favour of the party.

“The Congress’ manifesto was attractive to the people; the AIADMK government’s failure — voters felt it was anti-people; and then our alliance worked without any hiccups,” he said.

The alliance partners too ensured that their cadres worked for each other’s victory.

“We had tremendous coordination with the DMK. If we received a report or a complaint that there were some issues with coordination on the ground with their party cadre, every single time, it was set right within 24 hours,” he added.

Commending the party’s Karur candidate, S. Jothimani, Mr. Alagiri said she campaigned vigorously. “She is from a simple background and is a grass-roots worker, available 24x7 to address people’s issues. It seemed like even the voters started praying for her victory during campaigning,” he said.

The other candidate who sprang a surprise was Dr. K. Jayakumar in Thiruvallur. At one point during the campaign, Mr. Jayakumar, an outsider to the constituency, had almost given up, Congress leaders had said during the campaign period. But the party managed to pull through and ensure his victory, possibly well-assisted by the anti-Modi wave.

In 2009, the Congress contested 15 seats in the DMK alliance and won 8. In 2014, the party fought alone in all the seats and was routed.

With Nanguneri MLA H. Vasanthakumar defeating the BJP’s Pon. Radhakrishnan in the Kanyakumari constituency, one of the seats will now fall vacant.


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Printable version | Jun 25, 2022 7:20:36 am | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/tn-tally-boosts-congress-overall-performance/article62003693.ece