Cong removes Balu as TN chief, names Gnanadesikan in his place

The decision was taken by party chief Sonia Gandhi six months after the polls and just after the local body elections where also it received a drubbing. The Congress had contested these polls on its own after the DMK, its longstanding ally, decided to go all alone in the state.

52-year-old Gnanadesikan is a known loyalist of Union minister G K Vasan, who heads the major faction in the state and known for his organisational skills. A second term Rajya Sabha MP, the new PCC chief hails from Virudnagar district from southern Tamil Nadu.

Gnanadesikan was also with the erstwhile Tamil Manila Congress headed by the late G K Moopanar, father of Vasan.

The removal of Thangka Balu was on the cards after the assembly polls as Congress secured just five seats as against 63 it contested in alliance with the DMK which lost power.

Various factions in the state had started gunning for Balu after controversy over the distribution of tickets in the assembly polls.

The Congress is out of power in Tamil Nadu for the past four decades. The ruling AIADMK led by Jayalalitha has given more than hints that it was ready to do business with the Congress at the Centre if it dumps the DMK which is part of the UPA since 2004.

Gandhi also extended the term of Jharkhand PCC chief Pradeep Balmuchu by a year, party General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi announced.

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