The All India Congress Committee on Thursday suspended the party’s south Chennai district president Karate R. Thiagarajan, considered close to veteran leader and former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, with immediate effect for anti-party activities.
“AICC has approved the proposal sent by the general secretary (in-charge for Tamil Nadu) for taking stern disciplinary action against Karate Thiagarajan, for frequent anti-party activities and breach of discipline. Based on this, he has been suspended from the party with immediate effect,” K.C. Venugopal, AICC general secretary, said in a statement.
The trigger for the suspension seems to be his opinion expressed at an internal meeting of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) recently that in the upcoming local body polls the party should contest on its own in at least 15 wards in south Chennai. This led to senior DMK MLA K.N. Nehru questioning the need for continuing the Dravidian party’s alliance with the Congress. The events seemed to push the two parties to the brink, barely a month after a very successful poll outcome in the Lok Sabha elections.
Early this month, Mr. Thiagarajan took a portrait of the late DMK president M. Karunanidhi to the TNCC headquarters without informing the party leadership and paid floral tributes on his birth anniversary. This ruffled many feathers within the TNCC.
Mr. Thiagarajan told The Hindu that he is waiting to find out the reasons for his suspension. The former deputy Mayor of Chennai said,”I am waiting for Mr. Chidambaram to come back from Delhi tomorrow and find out the reasons. A few TNCC leaders also called me and spoke to me asking me to remain silent for a while. I will know tomorrow what happened and will respond after that.”
Senior leaders in the party have been complaining about Mr. Thiagarajan’s activities in the recent past — he had earlier questioned why the DMK did not participate in significant measure in a protest organised by the Congress. Considering that he is close to film actor Rajinikanth, there is a view that he might join him as and when the latter launches his political party.
Mr. Thiagarajan has had a series of run-ins with the party’s leaders, including former TNCC president Su. Thirunavukkarasar recently, questioning how the latter could make statements that he had won his Lok Sabha seat on his own strength. Last year, Mr. Thiagarajan took on Congress’ national spokesperson Khushbu claiming that she was not a member of the party.