Congress keen to contest Nanguneri Assembly byelection

In fire-fighting mode: Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president K.S. Azhagiri addressing party workers meeting in Nanguneri on Friday.

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In fire-fighting mode: Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president K.S. Azhagiri addressing party workers meeting in Nanguneri on Friday.

Alagiri says decision to contest will be taken after discussions with partners

The Congress at a meeting attended by TNCC president K.S. Alagiri in Tirunelveli on Friday passed a resolution in favour of the party fielding its candidate in the Nanguneri Assembly constituency where a bypoll is due. The seat had fallen vacant after the resignation of H. Vasanthakumar of the party was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kanniyakumari.

The resolution instantly triggered a controversy as the DMK, which is the leader of the Secular Progressive Alliance that includes the Congress, is keen on fielding its candidate from the seat. In fact, the party’s youth wing leader Udhayanidhi Stalin had in the presence of Congress leaders at a meeting said “Please give Nanguneri to us and we will win it.”

However, shortly after the meeting, Mr. Alagiri sought to make light of the resolution and said the issue of fielding a candidate would be decided after discussing it with the alliance parties.

Mr. Alagiri had chaired a preparatory meeting here to discuss the election work in Nanguneri. The meeting, notwithstanding DMK president M.K. Stalin’s recent assertion that his party would decide on fielding the candidate only after the by-poll notification, resolved unanimously to work tirelessly for the victory of the Congress candidate. Besides Mr. Alagiri, the meeting was attended by Kanniyakumari MP Mr. Vasanthakumar, Congress secretary and in-charge of party affairs in Tamil NaduSanjay Dutt, working president Mayura Jayakumar, former Union Minister R. Dhanushkodi Athithan and former MLA S. Peter Alphonse.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the meeting, Mr. Alagiri said the Narendra Modi-led Union Government-controlled agencies, which had filed cases against former Union Minister P. Chidambaram and subsequently arrested him with the objective of tarnishing his image and that of the Congress, would never succeed in the attempt. The arrest would never dent his pride and in fact, the BJP government, by arresting Mr. Chidambaram, had sullied democracy as it was mere “political vendetta”.

Spat with Vaiko

Asked about his recent spat with MDMK general secretary Vaiko for having held then Congress government responsible for “ethnic cleansing” in Sri Lanka, Mr. Alagiri said there was no strain in the relationship among the allies.

‘Independence’ struggle

On BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s observation that the Congress would soon have to conduct its general council meeting in Tihar Jail, the TNCC president said the Congress, whose leaders had spent several years in prisons across the country during the freedom struggle, was prepared for that as the party leaders were spearheading the second “independence” struggle.

Besides resolving to work hard to ensure the victory of the Congress candidate in the Nanguneri byelection, the meeting urged the Tamil Nadu government to conduct the local body polls without delay. The meeting appealed to the party workers to participate in large number in the gram sabha meeting to be held on October 2 to highlight the people’s problems and ensure unhindered education of the poor children.

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