With pollsters predicting tough elections for the Congress, several union ministers and senior party leaders have developed cold feet over contesting the Lok Sabha polls.
Union shipping minister GK Vasan was the first Congress leader from Tamil Nadu to publicly opt out of the poll race. Former union minister KV Thangkabalu soon followed him.
With the DMK unwilling to return to the UPA fold, the Congress is finding it tough to find alliance partners in the southern state. Its talks with Captain Vijayakanth's DMDK failed after which the actor-turned-politician struck a deal with the BJP.
No other party is ready to do business with the Congress in Tamil Nadu.
Some reports suggested that finance minister P Chidambaram is not keen to fight from Sivaganga but Congress sources denied any such move.
Information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari too is said to be reluctant to seek re-election from Ludhiana. The sources said Tewari is keen to contest from Chandigarh but scales are heavily tilted in favour of former railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal.
Tewari had recently remarked that the Congress party should not give tickets to tainted leaders, a statement which many in the party said was aimed at Bansal.
However, Congress sources said there is no charge-sheet against Bansal and in fact the CBI has framed charges against his nephew in a railway corruption scam. Bansal had to quit the ministry last year in the wake of the scam.
There are indications that state chiefs Sachin Pilot (Rajasthan), Partap Singh Bajwa (Punjab) and Ashok Tanwar (Haryana) might be given exemption to fight the elections in order to concentrate on overall campaigning in their states.