Playing out on the sidelines of the All India Mahila Congress’ newly appointed General Secretary Nagma’s visit to Tamil Nadu and Puducherry was a high-voltage ego clash between the actor-turned politician and Vijayadharani, one of the 5 MLAs of the Congress in TN. But what the face-off, which has set tongues wagging within the Congress, really shows is the mutual distrust between state units and the party high command in Delhi.
The recent controversy started the minute Nagma landed in Chennai on October 15. And taking up cudgels against her, according to sources in the TNCC, was TN MLA S Vijayadharani.
Vijayadharani is one of the only 5 MLAs of the Congress in the state and is the most popular faces of the state assembly. She represents the Vilavancode constituency and is also the State Mahila Congress chief. She is believed to have had the support of Congress leaders like Mani Shankar Aiyar and Ghulam Nabi Azad for her quick ascension in the party.
Sources within the TNCC say that Nagma, who has also been made the state in-charge for Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, did not inform Vijayadharani before her visit. Peeved by this, Vijayadharani did not go to meet Nagma, as is expected of the State Mahila Congress president when someone from the HQ arrives. That she was not welcomed according to protocol reportedly got Nagma upset.
After Nagma’s visit got considerable media attention, Vijayadharani seems to have been further unhappy at her for trying to steal her thunder in the state. So much so that one of the Mahila congress events were even cancelled due to the lack of communication between the two, according to sources. We could possibly take a hint from one of Nagma’s tweets on October 17.
Sorry have to cancel my tuttukudi trip. As I am still to meet with my state Mahila president— Nagma Morarji (@nagma_morarji) October 16, 2015
What seemed to have made it difficult for senior members to pacify the two was the fact that Nagma has been appointed by Rahul Gandhi himself, while Vijayadharani is seen to have gathered quite a bit of political capital herself in the recent years due to her work in the state.
The root to the controversy, party insiders say, lies in the reported uneasiness between Vijayadharani and Khushbu, who has joined the Congress party recently and has also been appointed a national spokesperson by the All India Congress Committee. As Vijayadharani was eyeing a big role for herself the induction of Khushbu is reported to have got her upset. Now, she had competition from a fellow woman politician who was also extremely popular. For Vijayadharani, Nagma’s arrival to Chennai also bore the mark of the party high-command’s imposition of decision on the state unit.
Khushbu however denies that there any rift between the congresswomen. “Everything you are saying is news to me,” Khushbu told The News Minute.
“I can clarify to you now that there are no such problems. We are all working together. Mr EVKS Elangovan is leading us in the state and we have full faith in his leadership,” she said.
When asked if she will be coordinating between Nagma and the state Mahila Congress now, she said, “I have been appointed to my post by the AICC. So I will take directions from them. Nagma will be in touch with the state Mahila Congress. But I am here to help them whenever required,” she said.
Responding to a question on the controversy, Nagma told reporters at a recent press conference, “All the women leaders of the Congress will work together and you need not be afraid. We will work and you will know in time.”
A member of the TNCC however told TNM on conditions of anonymity that such problems will go on until central leadership in the Congress party gives more freedom to the state units. “The dissatisfaction continues to exist in the state ranks, and with the assembly elections ahead, we can only expect more such incidents,” said the TNCC member.