DMK president MK Stalin with his Congress counterpart Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Soni Gandhi. (MK Stalin/Twitter)
DMK president MK Stalin’s statement proposing Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s name for the Prime Ministerial candidate seems to have not gone down well with several leaders from Opposition parties. Speaking at an event organised to unveil a statue of former Tamil Nadu chief minister K Karunanidhi in Chennai on Sunday, Stalin made a strong pitch for Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate of the Opposition for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, saying the Gandhi scion had the ability to defeat the "fascist" Narendra Modi government.
"In 2018, on the occasion of unveiling Thalaivar Kalaignar statue, I propose, we will install a new prime minister in Delhi. We will build a new India, as the Son of Thalaivar Kalaignar, I propose the candidature of Rahul Gandhi from Tamil Nadu," Stalin said.
We will install a new Prime Minister in Delhi. We will build a new India.— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) December 16, 2018
I have proposed Thiru @rahulgandhi's name as PM and appeal to respected leaders of all the parties to strengthen his hands and save the nation from the fascist Modi government. pic.twitter.com/HjouCAIIuD
"Rahul has got the ability to defeat the 'Fascist Nazist' Modi government. I appeal to all my respected party leaders on the dais. We will strengthen the hands of Rahul Gandhi. We will save this nation," Stalin said.
However, leaders of the Samajwadi Party, the Telugu Desam Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Trinamool Congress, the National Congress Party are understood to have reservations over naming any prime ministerial nominee for the Opposition alliance for the 2019 general elections.
"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 told news agency PTI.
The rally in Chennai turned into a show of strength event for the opposition as it was attended by Rahul Gandhi himself, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Chandrababu Naidu, Tamil superstar-cum-politician Rajinikanth, former Union minister Shatrughan Sinha.
Stalin's plea is in line with the tradition of his late father M Karunanidhi who had earlier invited Indira Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi for leadership roles.
Sonia Gandhi also 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.
''It is my earnest desire that the mutual support of our parties to each other must remain strong and steadfast as when Karunanidhi ji was guiding us...and as we wage together a battle with the political forces that are determined to destroy our constitutional values, our institutions and the idea of India as you know it,'' she said in an apparent reference to the BJP.
Gandhi said the message of unity among the Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) should go to the people.
Also present on the occasion, Naidu said: "People elected the BJP government, but it destroyed all institutions; federalism is destroyed. They are misusing the CBI. It's a premier institution for corruption control, now it's meddled in corruption itself. They removed the CBI Director, the RBI Governor has resigned...The ED, the IT departments are being used to victimise politicians. Yesterday, you saw the Rafale case in the Supreme Court. Even for the SC, this government has filed wrong affidavit. Governors are misusing powers in Goa, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and other states."
(With PTI inputs)