WHILE THE BJP is seen as supporting Tamil Nadu’s caretaker CM, O Panneerselvam, in his battle against V K Sasikala, the Congress Friday decided to take a neutral position. Although a fringe player with eight MLAs, the party has to take a position, especially if there is a floor test in the Assembly. On Friday, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi met top leaders from Tamil Nadu, and after nearly 90 minutes of deliberation decided that the party will maintain equal distance from both AIADMK factions “for now”, sources said.
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P Chidambaram, who had criticised Sasikala’s elevation as CM, is learnt to have opposed any truck with her. Sources said barring E M Sudarsana Natchiappan, all other leaders in the meeting were opposed to any association with Sasikala. State Congress chief S Thirunavukkarasar, who is said to be in favour of backing Sasikala if she falls short of majority in a floor test, did not reveal his mind. He seems to believe that since the BJP is apparently backing Panneerselvam, the party should join hands with Sasikala.
Former TNCC chiefs E V K S Elangovan, M Krishnaswamy, K V Thangabalu and Kumari Ananthan and AICC secretaries A Chella Kumar and K Jayakumar and CLP leader K R Ramasamy attended the meeting. All eight Congress MLAs are against backing Sasikala, Ramasamy is learnt to have said in the meeting. Congress is an ally of DMK, and supporting Sasikala would mean an end to their ties, which many believe is not advisable, with the Lok Sabha elections only two years away.
Morally, most Congress MLAs and leaders argue that the party cannot have any truck with Sasikala given her tainted image. Constitutionally, the party believes Sasikala’s position is right since she has been duly elected as AIADMK legislature party leader by its MLAs. A leader said: “We are a national party. How can we say that she should not be sworn-in by the Governor? We had fought against BJP’s attempts to topple our governments in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and had been questioning the role of Governors.”