Barely six months after it was routed in the Lok Sabha election, the Congress in Tamil Nadu split Monday with senior leader G.K. Vasan announcing his decision to float a new party.
“The people are looking for an alternative. We want to give an alternative in Tamil Nadu,” Vasan told the media, ending his long association with the Congress.
The son of the late G.K. Moopanar, a veteran Congress leader, told the media that the new party’s name and flag would be made public at a conference in Trichy this month.
“Steps will be taken to register the party with the Election Commission,” he said.
Several leaders of the Congress in Tamil Nadu, including Peter Alphonse and B.S. Gnanadesikan, have joined Vasan.
Vasan said the Congress leadership did not act as per “our expectations” and so a Congress government could not be formed in the state.
The Congress has been out of power in Tamil Nadu since 1967. For years, it allied with the AIADMK or DMK but is now widely seen as an also ran in the state.
“We will give preference to the problems faced by the state,” Vasan said, indicating his party would have a regional focus.
The new party would follow the path laid down by Moopanar and the late Congress leader K. Kamaraj, a former Tamil Nadu chief minister whose name is synonymous with good governance in the state.
The Congress said Vasan’s departure was of no consequence.
Tamil Nadu Congress chief E.V.K.S. Elangovan told reporters that the party will not be affected by Vasan’s exit.
His departure was being speculated about even prior to the Lok Sabha polls in May.
Vasan reportedly became disenchanted after his supporters were sidelined in the party.
A former central shipping minister, Vasan’s decision not to contest the Lok Sabha election was not taken kindly by the party leadership.
The Congress was routed in all 39 Lok Sabha constituencies in Tamil Nadu — and in the lone Puducherry seat.
The break up was firmed up after another party leader, Gnanadesikan, resigned his post Oct 30 after accusing the high command of not consulting the state unit on key issues.
Gnanadesikan also said that former finance minister P. Chidambaram had not visited the party office for three months and had held meetings with some party colleagues on his own.
Vasan expressed his support for Gnanadesikan.
Moopanar broke away from the Congress in 1996 to form the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC). The party merged with the Congress in 2002 after Vasan had taken over its leadership.
The Congress was considered an untouchable in the state by all other parties during the Lok Sabha battle over the Congress-led UPA government’s refusal to halt the military campaign in Sri Lanka against the LTTE.
The situation is not expected to change even in the 2016 assembly polls,