With barely four months left for the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, the Congress on Saturday announced a new team of office-bearers for the state unit and key poll-related panels in what seemed to be a massive exercise in accommodation. The Congress’s state unit will now have 32 vice presidents, 57 general secretaries and 104 secretaries.
The party also announced a 39-member state election committee which will be headed by state Congress chief K S Alagiri. The panel has as members leaders such as P Chidambaram, AICC office-bearers such as Manickam Tagore and A Chella Kumar, and MPs including Karti Chidambaram, K Jayakumar and S Jothimani. A 19-member election coordination committee has also been appointed, headed by former state Congress chief E V K S Elangovan.
Another former TNCC chief and Lok Sabha MP S Thirunavukkarasar will head the 38-member election propaganda/campaign committee. Another former TNCC chief K V Thangkabalu will head a 31-member publicity committee. While former MP Peter Alphonse will head the manifesto committee, CLP leader K R Ramasamy will head an election management team.
But the appointment has triggered a controversy with Sivaganga MP Karti Chidambaram saying such large committees serve no purpose. “These jumbo committees serve no purpose. 32 VP, 57 GS, 104 Secretaries. None will have any authority which means no accountability,” he tweeted, tagging Rahul Gandhi, AICC general secretary in charge of organisation K C Venugopal, and AICC in charge of the state Dinesh Gundu Rao, among others.
Another MP, who did not want to be named, said the list of office-bearers is a “joke”. “There are many names….almost 60 to 70 per cent of the office-bearers appointed are unfit for state committees. State general secretaries, vice presidents and all carry weight in the party. There should be some criteria for selecting…It has to send a message….we are not an employment office,” he told The Sunday Express.
However, Tiruvallur MP and state Congress Working President K Jayakumar praised the appointments. “It is a good committee which will be effective and adequate to face the coming Assembly elections. That is the immediate task before us. It is an important election. It is a bit delayed. We should have done it three or four months ago. But even then we have adequate time to prepare… the committee will get settled down…in fact we have already commenced our work.”