Stalin, speaking at a public rally after the unveiling of a statue of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi in the presence of Gandhi and his mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, said: “In the five years of PM Modi’s rule, the country has gone back by 15 years. If we give another chance to him, surely the country will go 50 years back. PM Modi is behaving like a king, that’s why we’ve all come together to safeguard democracy and country.”
He added, “I propose we install a new Prime Minister in Delhi. I propose the candidature of Rahul Gandhi from Tamil Nadu. He has got the ability to defeat the fascist Modi government.”
Stalin’s remarks, however, did not find favour with all opposition leaders. According to sources, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) were upset with the DMK leader’s premature announcement of a prime ministerial face. Leaders in the two parties were of the opinion that Stalin should have waited till after the Lok Sabha elections to announce a name and his remarks were purely of an emotional nature as his father Karunanidhi too had batted for Indira and Sonia Gandhi to occupy the top post.
“A number of opposition leaders are understood to have reservations against naming anyone as the prime ministerial face. The SP, TDP, BSP, TMC, and NCP disagree with Stalin’s announcement. It is premature. The PM name is to be decided only after the Lok Sabha results,” a top opposition leader said.
Earlier in the day, Sonia Gandhi, while hailing Karunanidhi, hit out at the BJP for being determined to destroy constitutional values and sought “steadfast and strong ties” between her party and the DMK to trounce the saffron party in the next year’s Lok Sabha elections.
“Karunanidhi was a democrat to the core and a believer in parliamentary institutions,” she said, adding her party will always remember his support to former prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1971 and 1980 towards Indira’s bank nationalisation and abolition of privy purses initiatives.
Recalling her association with Karunanidhi, the Congress leader said the late patriarch was a great support and strength for the UPA from 2004 to 2014. ”I personally remember that we looked up to his knowledge and experience to guide our coalition government,” she said.
The event was also attended by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and his Kerala and Puducherry counterparts — Pinarayi Vijayan and V Narayanasamy — and leaders of DMK and several other parties, movie actors and industrialists. Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth also participated in the function.
Speaking at a public rally after the event, Naidu said people elected the BJP government but then it destroyed all institutions. “Federalism is destroyed. They are misusing CBI. It’s a premier institution for corruption control, now it’s muddled in corruption itself. They removed CBI Director. RBI Governor has resigned,” he said. “Even ED and IT department are being used to victimise politicians. Yesterday, you saw the Rafale case in Supreme Court. Even for SC, this government has filed wrong affidavit. Governors are misusing powers in Goa, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and other states,” Naidu added.
Rahul Gandhi, while paying tributes to Karunanidhi, said though the DMK patriarch defended institutions of the country, “today we have a government that is attacking voice, culture, institutions of Tamil Nadu and our country”. He said, “In memory of Karunanidhi Ji, all voices in India are going to get together and defeat BJP in next election.” “We aren’t going to allow the destruction of the idea of India, the destruction of our institutions, the Supreme Court, the RBI, the EC. And we are going to stand together and do this (defeat BJP),” Gandhi added.