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There’s a storm in Congress’s tea cup

A passionate plea from a Cong worker that “tea boys and sweepers” at the Cong headquarters in Delhi should not be sent to Kerala as LS candidates has triggered an unusual debate in the state, reports Ramesh Babu.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2009 00:12 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times

A passionate plea from a Congress worker that “tea boys and sweepers” at the Congress headquarters in Delhi should not be sent to Kerala as Lok Sabha candidates has triggered an unusual debate in the state: who is the tea boy and is it a bad thing to be a tea boy?

Senapati Venu, president of the party’s Udumbanchola block in Idukki district, got thunderous applause at the special Congress session in Delhi on Sunday, when he spoke soon after president Sonia Gandhi.

Many delegates made a serpentine queue to laud him and even Sonia and Rahul Gandhi could not resist clapping.

Things took a curious a turn when All Indian Congress Committee (AICC) secretary Tom Vadakkan alleged that the remarks were aimed at him, at the behest of some state Congress leaders.

Vadakkan, a non-resident Keralite, is an aspirant for the Thrissur Lok Sabha seat. “It is a ploy to discredit me. Who is Senapati to say this? His name was not there on the speakers’ list. It was added at the eleventh hour at the behest of a former party MP,” Vadakkan said, adding: “Nowhere does the party constitution bar tea boys from becoming members of parliament.”

Senapati, however, said he had no intention of triggering a controversy. “My comments were not intended at anyone in particular. I simply articulated the feelings of ordinary party workers here. I’ve never met Vadakkan in my life. And how can I slight such a senior leader,” he asked. If Vadakkan persists, he is ready to tender an apology.

This is not the first time that Vadakkan has been involved in such a controversy. Recently, he had a wordy duel with Thrissur DCC president CN Balakrishnan, who said without taking anyone’s name that “much used brooms won’t get any chance in these elections”. Vadakkan responded saying he was not an overused broom but a “good vacuum cleaner” that could clean dirt well.

(With inputs from Political Bureau)

First Published: Feb 12, 2009 21:53 IST