21 March 2009
Thiruvananthapuram: Vijayan Thomas, the chairman of the Congress-owned television channel in Kerala, has said he would contest as an independent candidate from the key Thiruvananthapuram constituency from where the party has fielded former UN undersecretary general Shashi Tharoor.
Posters of Thomas, chairman of Jai Hind TV, have been put up across the constituency announcing his candidature. Party sources say he had been assured a seat when he had invested in the channel.
Though Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala and other party leaders Friday said there would be only one party candidate, Thomas told reporters that he would contest.
"Strong action will be taken against those who speak against the high command's decision," Ramesh said.
"There will be no rebel Congress candidate at all (in Thiruvananthapuram)," said P.P. Thankachan, convenor of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).
Party sources said Tharoor visited Thomas to request him to withdraw his candidature.
The channel, which was launched nearly two years ago, is a joint venture between two companies - Bharath Broadcasting Network (BBN) and Jai Hind Communications (JHC) - and the Congress is the third partner.
Thomas, a Dubai-based businessman, invested heavily in Jai Hind TV channel as he said he was under the impression that he would get a party ticket for the Lok Sabha seat.
"The state Congress leaders had assured the seat to Thomas," a Congress leader said on condition of anonymity.
But when the list of candidates was finalised, Thomas was not even among the probables. He then went ahead and printed posters announcing his candidature, the sources said.
Tharoor was named the Congress candidate for the Thiruvananthapuram seat late Thursday. His main challenge is from Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate Ramachandran Nair, a Communist Party of India (CPI) leader.
Another opponent is Bahujan Samaj Party's Neelalohithadasan Nadar, who as a Congress candidate in 1980 trounced CPI leader M.N. Govindan Nair.