Tamil Nadu

In TN, weak Congress smarts under another blow

The timing of former Union Environment and Forests Minister Jayanthi Natarajan’s embarrassing revelations about the role played by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in decision-making in her ministry could not have been worse for the Congress in Tamil Nadu. Although she is not a political heavyweight, the party high command has reason to fear that her revolt may set off a trend. The party may now think twice before initiating disciplinary action against dissidents.

Her resignation from the Congress is unlikely to have any impact on the party’s plummeting fortunes in Tamil Nadu. Ms. Natarajan was clear that her grievances were against the high command and that TNCC leaders had always cooperated with her. However, that was not enough to please TNCC president E.V.K.S. Elangovan, who said the party had been cleansed by her exit.

The TNCC, weakened by the exit of former Union Minister G.K. Vasan and his supporters, has no major ally in Tamil Nadu. The party is not contesting the upcoming Assembly by-election in Srirangam constituency.

While there may be speculation in Delhi about the timing of Ms. Natarajan’s revelation -- that it may be aimed at clearing her name ahead of an impending CBI investigation into project clearances or that it could indicate a signal to the BJP in the run-up to the Delhi Assembly elections -- the fact remains that the weak state of the Congress in Tamil Nadu is conducive for Congress leaders to give vent to their grievances.

Surprisingly, Ms. Natarajan’s revelations evoked only muted reactions from parties in Tamil Nadu. The DMK, a potential Congress ally, sees it only as an inner party affair.

The Tamil Maanila Congress, headed by Mr. Vasan, has not formally reacted, but it may not be averse to her entry. Ms. Natarajan was an active member in the TMC in its earlier avatar of 1996-2002 when G.K. Moopanar was heading it. She was also a Union minister in the United Front government (1997-98) in which TMC was a constituent. However, Ms. Natarajan said she had no plans of joining any party now.

The possibility of Ms. Natarajan gravitating towards the BJP may also be making some parties wary. The CPI(M) did not have an early reaction, but CPI leader D. Raja described her allegations as serious and demanded an explanation from Mr. Gandhi and the Congress high command.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 3:18:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/locating-jayanthis-revelations-in-the-state-of-play-in-tamil-nadu-politics/article6839573.ece

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