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Parties now have to contend with the rebel factor

Saturday 8 April 2006, by JAYANTH*V.

Voice of dissent has not spared even the two main Dravidian outfits

Rebellion in Congress takes new turn with INTUC being centre of activity Pondicherry unit of AIADMK sees protests over choice of actor Anandaraj DMK leader A.G.Sampath to contest as an Independent from Mugaiyur

CHENNAI: First there were protests over allocation of seats within an alliance. Now it relates to the choice of candidates. Those denied the ticket and their supporters have taken to the streets. Many of them have announced their intention to contest as Independents. There may be time for the parties to sort out the mess, as filing of nominations begins only on April 13. But it could damage the prospects of the official candidate.

Normally, factionalism and dissension are associated with the Congress. The two main Dravidian parties being monolithic structures, the writ of the leader runs through the party machinery. Barring some grumbling, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) do not see any rebellion. But this time, the voice of dissent has not spared even these parties. In the Congress, it is not just groupism within the State unit. The rebellion has taken a new turn with the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) being the centre of activity.

Even before the electoral process was set in motion, two main INTUC leaders broke ranks and aligned with the AIADMK. Chief Minister Jayalalithaa blessed and granted the dissidents two seats, including the prestigious Villivakkam constituency. The `official’ INTUC got together, expelled the duo and emphasised the need for the Congress providing berths to its trade union wing. This did not happen. So protests are on by various sections of the Congress, across the State, demanding representation and opposing "distribution of tickets to factions and their leaders."

Protests galore

Supporters of Vellore district Congress chief A.M.Muniratnam staged a protest at the TNCC headquarters here on Friday. State Congress president M.Krishnasswamy tried to pacify them.

Loyalists like veteran film producer Muktha Srinivasan are upset at the way the Congress leadership has handled the issue. He has submitted his resignation to Mr. Krishnasswamy.

The anger stems from the allocation of seats, selection of candidates and distribution among castes.

The Pondicherry unit of the AIADMK has seen street protests over the choice of film star Anandaraj.

The party had earlier nominated Nehru for the constituency. He has vowed to contest as an Independent.

In the DMK, A.G.Sampath has announced his decision to contest as an Independent from Mugaiyur, after being denied the ticket.

Three Dalit MLAs belonging to the PMK walked out of that party before the last session of the Assembly and joined the AIADMK.

One of them was given the ticket, but was withdrawn following protests in the constituency.

Rare winner

A rare example of a rebel candidate emerging victorious on his own strength is Appavu, who quit the Congress and got elected from his Radhapuram constituency as an Independent last time.

He has since joined the DMK, which has fielded him this time.

Political circles say dissension and protest are only to be expected at this juncture, as aspirants prepare the ground in advance to contest polls. When denied ticket they are disappointed and want to register their protest.

But dissension dies down in time and those who lost out in the race get back to party work. Others part ways and seek greener pastures.

But the real anger comes from the youth, who want recognition and representation. They do not want the old-timers to latch on to their seats for four and five terms without giving others a chance. That seems to be the real problem.

See online : The Hindu

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