By Sanu George, IANS,
Thiruvananthapuram : He sounds remarkably sanguine for someone whose candidature was rejected by the Congress party in Kerala.
Former Dubai-based businessman Vijayan Thomas is contesting for the Thiruvananthapuram parliamentary seat on April 16 as an independent and says, “I am here to stay”.
Thomas, 53, will battle it out with several heavyweights, among them former UN undersecretary general Shashi Tharoor who is the Congress candidate for the seat.
But he says: “I am not a Congress rebel candidate. The decision to contest is mine alone and despite a lot of pressure I will not withdraw.”
Thomas is also pitted against state BJP president P.K. Krishna Das, Bahujan Samaj Party leader and former MP Neelalohithadasan Nadar, Left Democratic Front candidate P. Ramachandran Nair and Nationalist Congress Party leader and former Congress minister M.P. Gangadharan.
“I don’t underestimate any of my rivals and all of them belong to national parties. I am here to stay,” Thomas told IANS.
He is chairman of the Congress-backed Jai Hind TV channel. So it came as a shock to the party this month when he decided to jump into the poll fray.
“Let me make one thing clear. Media reports that I was asked to invest in the channel in turn for the Lok Sabha seat here are a fabricated story. None in the Congress party here ever gave me any assurance to this effect,” Thomas said.
“My being chairman of the channel has got nothing to do with my candidature. That is a purely commercial venture,” shot back Thomas who launched his campaign from his home town in Neyyatinkara, about 15 km from here.
“The Congress party contests 17 of the 20 seats from the state and for the 17 seats there are 1,700 aspirants ranging from local leaders to the topmost national leaders. So I am not at all surprised that my application seeking the Congress ticket from here was rejected,” added Thomas.
Thomas’ name first surfaced when the Congress was searching for an investor for the channel and along with another Dubai-based Malayali businessman, Aniyan Kutty, he was roped in. In 2007, the channel was launched in Delhi by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Ever since the channel was launched almost two years ago, he has been regular at the functions of his church and the programmes of several NGOs and social groups.
But he got his first shock when former Congress MP and veteran leader V.M. Sudheeran, without naming anyone, said that certain “money bags” were knocking on the doors of the party.
Since then, the going has been tough for him in the Congress party.
Grapevine has it that Thomas may finally withdraw his candidature in favour of Tharoor and for that he will have to get a solid assurance that he will be given the ticket in the next assembly polls two years later.
But he says he is determined not to jump out of the fray and already has his agenda chalked out.
“What I have noticed is that contrary to reports, close to 75 percent of voters in this constituency are having a tough life. I promise that I will work for their uplift and also look into their health concerns.
“Then only comes my promise for development of the city,” said Thomas.
He claims he no longer has any business interest in Dubai.
“For the past two years I have been here only and I used to have a small business there. It is only news reports that say I am a very big businessman, which is not true.”
(Sanu George can be contacted at [email protected])