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Jumbo committees will not adversely impact Congress in TN; bring various factions together: Mani Shankar Aiyar

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NEW DELHI: The
jumbo
committees formed in the CongressTamil Nadu unit ahead of the assembly polls are not going to adversely impact the party as the move brings various factions together, senior leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said on Thursday and predicted a “strong walkover” for the DMK-Congress alliance over the AIADMK in the upcoming elections.

The comments by Aiyar, who has been named in several key poll-related panels of the Congress’ Tamil Nadu unit, come days after Congress MP Karti Chidambaram raised questions over the state unit rejig, saying such ”
jumbo
committees” serve no purpose as no one will have any authority which would mean “no accountability”.

In an interview with PTI, Aiyar said the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-Congress alliance was facing a “very divided” All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) between Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) and O Panneerselvam (OPS).

Aiyar also said that if either of the “factions” in the AIADMK or the party as a whole joins hands with the BJP then that will be to its further disadvantage “because in Tamil Nadu there has never been and there isn’t now any kind of Hindu-Muslim divide”.

“The Congress will not be fighting in Tamil Nadu on its own, it is going to be part of the alliance being put together by the DMK. Now we are faced with a very divided AIADMK between EPS and OPS, where there has been no reconciliation of hearts,” he said.

“Although they (AIADMK) have succeeded against many people’s expectations, including mine, in being able to run a coalition government. I call it a coalition government because EPS and OPS are really running irreconcilable factions and these factional rivalries are bound to affect the ground prospects of the AIADMK,” the former Union minister and an ex-MP from Tamil Nadu said.

Asked about Karti Chidambaram’s ”
jumbo committee” remarks and his own take on the Congress appointing 32 vice presidents, 57 general secretaries and 104 secretaries in its state unit last week, Aiyar said this is the ”
jumbo way” of running the Pradesh Congress.

“It is a way of cross stitching differences in the very top provincial leadership of the party. I don’t see this being reversed,” he said.

Aiyar hoped that the more active members of the
jumbo establishment would form a smaller group of decision makers within the ”
jumbo
committees“.

Asked if such large panels in the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee could prove to be counterproductive for the party, he said, “It brings the party together.”

“It makes all the factions feel that they have representation and that the representation will be effective to the extent that the representatives of these factions are effective in their respective
committees.”

“I don’t think the mere fact that they are
jumbo
committees is going to adversely affect the Congress,” he asserted.

The fact is that there are factions and it is best that they be recognised, and the answer to this problem has been to make the entire election machinery as comprehensive as possible so that the party fights the elections unitedly, the 79-year-old leader said.

Aiyar, who has been named in the TNCC’s executive committee, Pradesh election committee and the manifesto committee, said the issue in the upcoming polls will be the same that has always been there in Tamil Nadu — good governance.

As far as ideology is concerned there is very little to choose between the AIADMK and the DMK who are both offspring of the original Dravidian movement, he said.

There would have been an ideological issue had the BJP turned out to be a more important political player than it is, but as the main battle is between the DMK and the AIADMK, there is little to choose ideologically, Aiyar said.

“So it does come round to personalities, to whom would you entrust the government of Tamil Nadu, to Jayalalithaa or Karunanidhi. Now both of them have gone but that remains the fundamental challenge; would you prefer M K Stalin to either OPS, EPS or both, or do you have some third alternative in mind. I think the third alternative has been removed by developments over the last couple of years,” he said, referring to the “poor performance” of Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan.

Tamil Nadu has already had five years of OPS-EPS rule and its performance has not been sufficiently outstanding to be a walkover for them, Aiyar said.

“Indeed I think it is going to be a pretty strong walkover for the DMK-Congress because as I said the fissiparous tendencies have become so pronounced in the AIADMK,” he said.

The Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu are likely to take place in April-May.

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