Senior Tamil Nadu Congress leader GK Vasan threatened to break away from the party on Saturday, highlighting the faultlines in India’s oldest party, a day after Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said Rahul Gandhi should take charge of the party.
Vasan and some other party leaders were upset with the central leadership over the issue of using images of Tamil leaders GK Moopanar and K Kamraj on Congress membership cards.
The Congress has seen a spate of resignations from its state unit over the issue and Vasan has been holding consultations with his supporters for the past two days, including former MLAs Vellore Gnanasekaran and Vidiyal Sekar, fuelling talks of a revival of the Tamil Maanila Congress founded by Vasan’s father, the late Moopanar.
“I will announce my next plan of action on November 3,” he said, shouting “Valamana Tamilagam, Valimayana Bharatham (prosperous Tamil Nadu, vibrant India)”, a slogan coined in 1996 when the party was founded.
Vasan alleged party workers were infuriated by the controversy over the pictures. “In Tamil Nadu, the movement (Congress) can be strengthened only by invoking the legacy of Kamaraj and Moopanar,” he said.
Vasan supporter Gnanadesikan earlier quit as Tamil Nadu Congress Committee chief, alleging the high command had not allowed them to use images of Kamaraj and Moopanar on the cards.
The development could not have come at a worse time for the Congress, which recorded its worst performance in the April-May general election, managing to win only 44 seats. It also lost power in Haryana and Maharashtra in last month’s assembly polls, causing a lot of concern among the party cadres.
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh stirred a hornet’s nest on Friday when he said that a section of the party felt the time had come for Rahul Gandhi to take over the party’s mantle.
Congress leaders distanced themselves from Singh’s comments, calling them his personal views.
“Those are his views,” said party spokesperson Anand Sharma. “Rahul Gandhi is our elected vice-president and definitely he mobilises the youth and is the future. Both give us strength and whatever steps are required, those are taken by the collective wisdom of the Congress leadership.”
Senior Congress leader Makhan Lal Fotedar said the general secretary’s statement was ill-timed.
“He (Digvijaya) wants to become the party chief,” Fotedar said. “Such people take advantage of the bad time the party is going through. But what they say is not correct. Whatever he wants to say he should say on a party forum.”
(with agency inputs)