Tamil Nadu

A boost for Congress at the right time

People connect: Rahul Gandhi spent three days campaigning in four districts from February 27.   | Photo Credit: SHAIKMOHIDEEN A

The Congress has got a much-needed fillip at the most appropriate time, say political commentators in the southern districts. The visit of party leader Rahul Gandhi to the region has invigorated the cadre and office-bearers who were not hopeful of the party’s prospects.

During his three-day campaign in the four districts from February 27, Mr. Rahul’s down-to-earth approach, humour, clarity in thoughts on pressing issues appealed to the party workers as well as the public. Even when he criticised the ruling BJP and the AIADMK, he was decorous. As the public acknowledged his points with wild cheers, Mr. Gandhi addressed gatherings even at unscheduled places.

After interacting with advocates in Thoothukudi and the salt-pan workers, he closed out with a public meeting near Nanguneri.

On February 28, a huge crowd waited at Paavoorchathram, Surandai and Sernthamaram, all in Tenkasi district, and greeted him with flower petals.

At Alangulam, the gathering wanted him to garland a Kamaraj statue. After the police denied permission on security grounds, Mr. Rahul garlanded the statue of the leader at Paavoorchathram, the next stop, where over 5,000 people patted applause to mark his arrival. He got a good reception even in interior places such as Surandai, Sernthamaram and Puliyangudi. Since Kamaraj is revered like a god at these places, the very mention of his name evoked cheers. And Mr. Gandhi went on to recall Kamaraj’s contribution to Tamil Nadu, connecting his achievements with the situation after demonetisation and the introduction of the GST regime.Congress bastion

The reception he received in Kanniyakumari district, considered a Congress bastion, could have been better, party leaders felt. The gathering was huge at Kanniyakumari and Colachel, but not so at other places. His visit to the memorial of late Kanniyakumari MP H. Vasanthakumar through the narrow roads of Agastheeswaram won the hearts of people of all walks. “We had never expected Mr. Gandhi to be here to pay homage at his memorial,” said Balakrishnan of Agastheeswaram.

Even as Congress workers were anticipating a “formal campaign”, Mr. Gandhi brought in a lively mix. He interacted with roadside-vendors, tea-vendors, schoolchildren and others spontaneously. When he visited a teashop at Valliammalpuram near Sattankulam or enjoyed a sip of tender coconut at the entrance of Alangulam, he enquired with the vendors about their families in a smattering of Tamil. “People’s affection for our leader reminded us of the days of Kamaraj. Mr. Gandhi’s approach to campaigning and his decency while criticising the government’s performance had a positive impact on the people. So the workers are upbeat,” Congress functionary Ruby Manoharan said.

As the DMK chose to keep a distance from Mr. Gandhi’s campaign because the seat-sharing talks were yet to make headway, the Congress leaders were disappointed. “When the most charismatic leader of the Congress came down for the electioneering, leaders of the DMK, heading the alliance in Tamil Nadu, should have received him at least at a few places. This would have taken the cohesion between the two parties to the next level. We cannot expect it from the ‘big brother’,” said a Congress leader from Kanniyakumari.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 7:35:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/a-boost-for-congress-at-the-right-time/article33975059.ece

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