Tamil Nadu Congress suspends MLA and party treasurer Ruby Manoharan, AICC stays the decision

Violence at TNCC office and suspension of Ruby Manoharan has again highlighted the ugly infighting in the Tamil Nadu unit of the Congress.

ByShilpa Nair

Published Nov 25, 2022 | 1:41 PM Updated Nov 25, 2022 | 1:41 PM

Ruby Manohran

In what comes as an embarrassment to the Tamil Nadu Congress, the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) on Thursday, 24 November, stayed within hours the decision taken by the state unit to suspend Nanguneri MLA and TNCC treasurer Ruby Manoharan over the clash that broke out at the party office a few days back.

The suspension was stayed on the ground that proper procedure was not followed.

According to a statement issued by Dinesh Gundu Rao, AICC in-charge for Tamil Nadu, the disciplinary proceedings initiated against Manoharan by the Disciplinary Action Committee of the TNCC was also stayed.

“The procedure has been followed improperly and it has been done in contravention to the principle of natural justice,” Gundu Rao said.

The statement from AICC came just hours after KR Ramasamy, chairman of the Disciplinary Action Committee announced that Manoharan has been temporarily suspended from the party.

Disciplinary hearing

Though the disciplinary committee had asked Manoharan to appear in person on Thursday for an inquiry, he did not do so citing prior commitments in his constituency. Instead, he gave a written explanation and sought more time to appear before the committee.

However, according to Ramasamy, his letter was not acceptable to the committee and, therefore, Manoharan was temporarily suspended from the party and asked to appear for the next hearing with relevant documents to explain his stand.

Immediately after his suspension, Manoharan told reporters that he was disappointed with the action taken against him by TNCC.

“I have worked hard for the party for the past several years. I’m disheartened to see the action taken against me… What happened is wrong. But I’m confident that AICC will not accept this. It is the TNCC that has taken the decision. But there is AICC, which is the highest authority. I’m not even sure if TNCC has the powers to suspend an MLA and a treasurer of the party,” he said.

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Similarly, leaders like Congress MP Karti Chidambaram also took to Twitter to say that he condemned the action taken against Manoharan as it was wrong to remove an MLA from the party without giving him a proper opportunity to explain his position.

When Manoharan’s suspension was stayed by the AICC, Karti said: “I am glad that the AICC has intervened promptly to correct the gross miscarriage of justice meted out to TNCC treasurer and MLA Ruby Manoharan.”

Background to the tussle

The entire issue pertains to scuffles and violence that broke out at Sathyamoorthy Bhavan, the TNCC headquarters in Chennai, on 15 November. On that day, state president KS Alagiri had called for a meeting of elected representatives to discuss ways to strengthen the party ahead of the 2024 general elections.

However, infighting within the Tamil Nadu Congress came to the fore yet again after a group of Manoharan’s supporters staged a protest against certain organisational appointments.

The dispute was over some block-level appointments made in the Tirunelveli district unit of the Congress. It was alleged that a few individuals were “chosen” without the knowledge of Manoharan as they were supporters of Tirunelveli East DCC president KPK Jayakumar.

According to sources, supporters of Manoharan were brought to the party headquarters in buses, following which scuffles ensued between them and supporters of Alagiri as they tried to block the state president’s car. Few Congress workers sustained injuries in the clash. Police rushed to the Congress office to diffuse the situation.

The incident has further widened the fissures within the party.

While one section of leaders have demanded that strict action be taken against Manoharan, other like Congress legislative party leader Selvaperunthagai, EVKS Elangovan and KV Thangabalu called on Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge in New Delhi demanding that Alagiri be replaced as the TNCC president.