TAMIL NADU

We won't flinch from taking up people's cause: Vasan

SALEM, DEC. 30. The Tamil Maanila Congress will never hesitate to take up the people's cause, its president, Mr. G. K. Vasan, told a press conference here today. He cited the party's protest against the recent increase in power tariff and bus fare.

``In fact, the partners in the ruling alliance had more rights than the Opposition parties to criticise the policies of the Government.''

Asked whether this was an indicator of the TMC getting closer to the Congress, Mr. Vasan said his party continued to be in the secular front. ``With the Congress, the party had good coordination and cooperation, and the status quo would continue.'' Mr. Vasan dismissed as ``contrary to truth'' the report in a section of the press that a group of MLAs (numbering 11) would defect to the AIADMK.

About the unliteral AIADMK announcement fielding a candidate to the Rajya Sabha seat, Mr. Vasan said there was no rule that the seat should be allotted to the party which held it earlier. As the AIADMK had 116 MLAs in the Assembly and the TMC only 22, the ruling party took the decision to field its candidate.

To a question whether in such a situation there would be any rethink on the alliance for the coming by-elections, Mr. Vasan said the party would take a stand after the Election Commission made a formal poll notification.

Meanwhile, there is an opinion in the TMC that the party should neither align with the AIADMK nor the DMK, but should retain its identity intact. For that matter, the partymen are none too keen on a merger with the Congress.

Local leaders and cadres from Salem, Veerapandi, Ayothiapattinam and Panamarathupatti, who attended a review meeting with Mr. Vasan, here today, are for strengthening the organisation at the village level.

They voiced their disillusionment with the present district level leadership, and wanted young blood infused. Certain leaders were holding on to posts for six years resulting in stagnation.

The partymen attributed this to the lackadaisical performance of the TMC in Salem district in the May Assembly elections as well as in the recent local bodies poll.

A section felt that the TMC not getting a single Assembly seat in Salem district created a situation in which the partymen had to approach ``unhelpful AIADMK MLAs.''

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