With an eye on May 16 assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, TMC joins hands with People's Welfare Front (PWF)
Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) – once a major political force in Tamil Nadu—seems to be losing steam today. With no following at the grassroot level, the party is practically a spent force.
Political observers feel that part of the TMC’s current plight comes from having a party president – GK Vasan – who came of age as a hothouse flower. “He never really learned how to work with political opponents or assuage the concerns of voters. The party which was once a force is now revived by a handful of leaders only for personal survival,” experts say.
Talking to Governance Now, novelist-journalist Vaasanthi, who has penned books like ‘Jayalalithaa: A Portrait and Cut-outs, Caste And Cine Stars: The World Of Tamil Politics’, says, “TMC is just a group of handful of leaders now. The party may gather just a few thousand votes in the coming assembly elections and [impact] the Congress votes.”
GK Vasan's father and veteran leader GK Moopanar had launched the TMC in 1996 after quitting the Congress. After Moopanar’s death, Vasan merged the party with the Congress. The DMK-Congress combine had swept the 2006 assembly polls winning 163 of the 234 seats. In November 2014, however, Vasan broke away from the Congress to revive the TMC.
Vaasanthi says that there was a genuine reason for late Moopanar to split from the Congress. There was considerable anger at the decision taken by the Congress high command under PV Narasimha Rao to join hands with AIADMK for Lok Sabha and assembly elections. At that time, there was a growing unpopularity of Jayalalithaa government in Tamil Nadu. The centre was alerted about this by the state Congress unit but the local unit’s sentiments were ignored. “Moopanar was strong and he stood for a cause. But his son Vasan had no particular reason to split from the Congress. Actually, Vasan was holding ministerial post when he was in Congress,” she says.
In her book, ‘Cut-outs, Caste And Cine Stars: The World Of Tamil Politics’, Vaasanthi notes that the TMC had emerged as the third major political force in Tamil Nadu, eclipsing the Congress (I). “But besides harping on ‘bringing back Kamaraj rule’, by which it meant a corruption free rule, the TMC did not seem to have a clear ideology,” says Vaasanthi in her book.
Even now the TMC dreams of bringing the rule of Kamaraj back as an alternative to the Dravidian parties, despite knowing that it is not easy.
Admitting that bringing back Kamraj rule may be a difficult task, GK Vasan says, “The party revived just 14 months back, though we have long political experience. And we always had the goal to revive Kamaraj rule. But for that to be possible, we have to have a greater party structure and greater party percentage, which we don’t have at present.”
“Lifestyle of the poor, downtrodden, minorities, SC/ST should be improved and that would also be one of our main goals. Other than this, the party would focus on education, agriculture, industry and health,” Vasan told Governance Now.