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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Chidambaram hits campaign trail on home turf to perk up Cong mood

Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 19, 2014
First Published: 01:19 IST(19/3/2014) | Last Updated: 01:21 IST(19/3/2014)

The Congress may be ploughing a lonely furrow in Tamil Nadu, but the race for finance minister P Chidambaram’s Sivaganga has become hot with two Union ministers pressing for their sons.

Chidambaram, who has been holding onto the constituency since 1984 — except for 1999 — wants his son Karthi to contest from there, while MoS, commerce and industries, Sudarshana Natchiappan is seeking the seat for his son Jaisimha.

Natchiappan won on a Congress ticket from Sivaganga in 1999 against Chidambaram, who was then with the Tamil Maanila Congress.

Now, if Chidambaram has conveyed his “request” for Sivaganga to the high command, so has Natchiappan.

Chidambaram spent Sunday and Monday in the constituency, addressing crowds with his son by his side. In fact, addressing the first meeting outside the famous Pillayarpatti temple, he declared: “There cannot be two candidates. And whoever becomes the candidate, I will be the (actual) candidate.”

In a bid to perk up the mood of Congress workers, downcast in the absence of a strong alliance and formidable candidates, Chidambaram said, “The Congress may have made mistakes and the people have the right to rap us on the knuckles. But the Congress is always with them.”

He, however, declined to comment on whether he was opting out in favour of his son. Some state leaders say the Gandhis would want him to contest the seat himself. But Natchiappan has conveyed to the Congress president that he was confident of winning the seat if his son was given the ticket.

The tussle for Sivaganga looks unique as many Congress leaders do not want to contest the polls. Shipping minister GK Vasan told reporters recently that he wanted to concentrate on campaigning, and not contesting. Former TNCC president Thangkbalu also refused to contest from his home constituency of Salem.

Similarly, former environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan was offered Sreeperumbdur, but she did not want to contest.

Interestingly, former Union minister EVKS Elangovan is keen on contesting from Tiruppur, while former TNCC president M Krishnaswamy said he had requested the high command to allot his existing seat, Arani, to his son Vishnu Prasad.


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