Irrepressible EVKS takes over TNCC reins again

Rahul’s move seen as a bold gambit at a time when the party is at its weakest in the State.

Updated - November 16, 2021 07:09 pm IST

Published - November 01, 2014 11:37 am IST - CHENNAI:

The newly-appointed TNCC president E V K S Elagovan at Satyamurthi Bhavan in Chennai on Saturday. Photo: M. Karunakaran

The newly-appointed TNCC president E V K S Elagovan at Satyamurthi Bhavan in Chennai on Saturday. Photo: M. Karunakaran

Known for his courageous outbursts, the former Union Minister, E.V.K.S. Elangovan, will take over the reins of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee on Sunday at a time of a serious crisis and political churning in the State.

Even before his appointment, the party looked to be heading towards a split: there were indications the former Shipping Minister, G.K. Vasan, might revive the Tamil Manila Congress, which his father G.K. Moopanar floated in 1996.

The last time Mr. Elangovan was at the helm in 2000, he had to face a revolt from senior leaders K.V. Thangkabalu and Tindivanam K. Ramamurthy. As it is the case now, he had the backing of the high command, which put down dissent.

Jubilant party members celebrate the appointment of E.V.K.S. Elangovan as the new TNCC president. Photo: M. Karunakaran.

Congress sources said Mr. Elangovan’s appointment had come down like a “lightning bolt” on other leaders. Many of them did not even consider him to be in the race.

“We are told Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi met him a few days ago. He has been appointed at Mr. Gandhi’s intervention,” said a senior leader.

The sources said Mr. Elangovan’s name was put forward by the former Defence Minister, A.K. Antony, who headed a committee to analyse the party’s dismal performance nationwide in the Lok Sabha elections.

After the TMC was merged with the Congress in 2002 under the leadership of Mr.Vasan at a huge rally in Madurai presided by party president Sonia Gandhi, Mr. Elangovan became the working president, and the late Kadaladi MLA, S. Balakrishnan, a Kamaraj acolyte, was appointed president of the State unit.

During his previous tenure, Mr. Elangovan, son of Dravidian stalwart E.V.K. Sampath, shot to fame with his bitter criticism of the AIADMK.

In the run-up to the 2001 Assembly polls, he accused the party of aligning with outfits with LTTE sympathies and expressed his uneasiness when Moopanar struck a chord with Ms. Jayalalithaa to keep the communal forces at bay after the DMK joined the BJP government at the Centre.

In 2006, he ruffled the feathers of DMK president M. Karunanidhi by demanding a share of power for the Congress in the State, just like the DMK was part of the Union government as a constituent of the UPA. In fact, during 2006-11, the DMK was in a minority in the Assembly and survived with the support of the Congress.

A senior TNCC leader said that at a time when the party was at its weakest in Tamil Nadu, a candid speaker and bold campaigner like Mr. Elangovan, always identified as a Nehru family loyalist, would enthuse the workers. “The workers should have the confidence that the party is alive. In his last stint, he kept the party vibrant,” he said.

Appropriate choice

With the BJP making swift moves to project itself as an alternative to both the DMK and the AIADMK in the run-up to the 2016 Assembly polls, an effective speaker like Mr. Elangovan is seen as an appropriate choice to lead the party.

Mr. Elangovan has also been keen on taking all sections of the TNCC with him. In fact, even on Saturday morning, he met the outgoing TNCC president, B.S. Gnanadesikan, and requested him to talk Mr. Vasan out of any drastic step at this stage. Later in the evening, Mr. Elangovan met the former Union Finance Minister, Mr. P. Chidambaram here.

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