The Indian National Congress finally released the first list of its candidates for the Lok Sabha polls from Tamil Nadu. With polling date set for April 18, which is less than a month away, the party had come under criticism for not making its candidates known. Announcing its first list of candidates well past midnight on Saturday, the party gave former Tamil Nadu Congress Committee chief S Thirunnavukkarasar the ticket to the Trichy parliamentary constituency. A leadership change in February had witnessed the party’s state outfit dropping Thirunnavukkarasar in favour of new chief KS Alagiri.
The Congress, which is part of the DMK-led alliance in the state, was allotted 10 seats in exchange for its support to the Dravidian party in the assembly bye-polls which are also due in the state. EVKS Elangovan, another former TNCC chief, is the party's candidate for the Theni constituency. The ex-MP and former Union Minister will be fighting against Raveendranath Kumar, son of Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister and AIADMK Coordinator O Panneerselvam. RK Nagar MLA TTV Dhinakaran’s AMMK has fielded recently-disqualified Theni MLA Thanga Tamilselvan from the constituency for the Lok Sabha polls.
Notably, the party has not named the candidate for its Sivaganga seat, which has reportedly caused infighting within the party. According to one party source, discussions have been ongoing over the seat for a while now. With a number of leaders in the running-- Former Union Minister P Chidambaram, his son Karti Chidambaram, actress and party spokesperson Khusbhu-- the party leadership is hoping to bag the Sivaganga constituency, perceived to be ‘low-hanging fruit’ for the party that it has won nine times in the past. The AIADMK-led alliance is fielding BJP National Secretary H Raja in the seat. Former Puducherry Chief Minister and MLA V Vaithilingam is the party's candidate from the union territory.
The national party has given a ticket to writer-politician Jothi Mani for the Karur parliamentary constituency, the sole woman candidate for the state thus far. Jothi Mani will be taking on the AIADMK’s local strongman and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai. A long-time Congresswoman, Jothi Mani had previously contested unsuccessfully from the Karur Lok Sabha seat twice: in the 2014 General Elections and the 2011 state assembly elections.
Former Virudhunagar MP Manickam Tagore has been given the ticket to the constituency once again. The leader, who has held a number of roles in the All India Congress Committee, will be up against senior DMDK leader R Azhagarsamy of the AIADMK-led alliance.
Former Namakkal MLA K Jeyakumar is the party’s candidate from the Thiruvallur reserved constituency. In February, he was elevated as one of TNCC's Working Presidents. Former MLA A Chellakumar, who is reportedly close to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, is the party's candidate from the Krishnagiri seat. Chellakumar is likely to face stiff competition from AIADMK veteran KP Munusamy.
TNCC Working President MK Vishnu Prasad will contest from Arani. Vishnu Prasad is the son of former TNCC president M Krishnaswamy. The leader will be up against incumbent AIADMK MP V Elumalai. Veteran Congressman H Vasanthakumar will be the party's candidate from Kanyakumari. The Kanyakumari seat will witness a direct battle between the two national parties. BJP’s Union Minister of State for Finance and Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan, who is also the sitting Member of Parliament from Kanyakumari, is seeking re-election.