Former union shipping minister G K Vasan quit the Congress along with his supporters on Monday and announced the launch of a new political party in Tamil Nadu. The move is identical to the one made by his father, the late G K Moopanar, in 1996, when he left the Congress to form the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) a few days before the general elections.
Vasan announced the decision at a media briefing in Chennai on Monday, after meeting district-level functionaries and leaders who he says assured him their support. He said the name and the symbol of the new party would be unveiled in Trichy soon.
In New Delhi, the Congress announced it was expelling Vasan. Party spokesman Ajoy Kumar said Vasan has been “expelled” with immediate effect for his “inappropriate” statements.
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These statements were aimed largely at AICC general secretary in-charge of Tamil Nadu Mukul Wasnik. Wasnik and B S Gnanadesikan, a close aide of Vasan and until recently the party chief in Tamil Nadu, had faced off at a meeting in New Delhi on Thursday, where Wasnik reportedly opposed the TNCC’s decision to launch a membership drive using pictures of veteran Tamil Nadu leaders K Kamaraj and Moopanar on the membership cards. Sources said Wasnik demanded that the cards have pictures only of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Later, Gnanadesikan quit as party unit chief, setting the stage for Vasan’s breakaway move.
Wasnik dismissed the Vasan camp’s allegations as baseless. PTI quoted him as saying, “I am not aware of any single reason (for the parting of ways by Vasan). He has enjoyed all respect within the party. He was a minister in the UPA government and was an important leader of the party in Tamil Nadu.”
In Chennai, Vasan said he was worried about the way the Congress was functioning in Tamil Nadu. He said the party would follow the path set by Kamaraj and Moopanar.
Moopanar had formed the TMC with a large number of leaders and all 20 Congress MPs after then prime minister Narasimha Rao had decided to strike an alliance with the AIADMK without consulting the state unit. If that was a blow, Vasan’s move comes when the Congress is already struggling in Tamil Nadu.
Vasan’s camp claimed three of the five Congress MLAs in the state would join the new party, though only two have confirmed it. Sources added that they would have the support of 18 to 20 of the 50 district committee presidents. Besides Gnanadesikan, former TMC leader Peter Alphonse was another important face that appeared alongside Vasan during Monday’s announcement.
New TNCC president E V K S Elangovan, who was appointed on Sunday after Gnanadesikan’s resignation, urged Vasan not to quit the party. However, he added, “If Vasan insists on floating a new party, his exit will not hurt the Congress.” (With PTI inputs)