Rising from his father’s shadows, Stalin chooses to fight for secularism and strengthen federalism
Politics is heating up in Tamil Nadu and the state is pregnant with possibilities with all kinds of alliances and tie-ups being speculated. While Uttar Pradesh is widely believed to decide which formation would rule the country, it will be Tamil Nadu that will be playing a key role in government formation after the general election 2019 results are out.
It was the AIADMK that became the third largest party in the Lok Sabha after the BJP and the Congress and it has been giving issue-based support to the Narendra Modi government in Parliament. Especially after the demise of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa, the Edapadi Palaniswami government made a U-turn on even the issues that Amma opposed. Owing to it a perception has enveloped Tamil Nadu that the AIADMK was in fact functioning like the B team and is slowly losing popularity among the masses.
The BJP, however, appears to be on a rethink mode on its TN strategy and is said to be open to the idea of weaning away the DMK from the Congress fold, much to the chagrin of the ruling AIADMK.
But the DMK is not biting at the moment and instead has stepped up its attack against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP to cash in on a general anti-BJP mood of the people in the state. Modi, however, remains still popular, but it is the attitude of the central government towards the state that has riled the masses in Tamil Nadu.
Chennai hosted a sombre event – homage to Kalaignar Karunanidhi – on Thursday, that saw an ensemble cast of national political players. Present were union cabinet minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, Nitin Gadkari, Janata Dal (United) Leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI secretary D Raja, several leaders of Tamil Nadu regional parties at the meeting held under the leadership of the newly elected DMK president MK Stalin. Missing were the AIADMK leaders from the congregation – as they were not invited.
The presence of BJP leader did set the tongues wagging, but Stalin did not disappoint the opposition leaders when he launched into a frontal attack against Modi and the BJP. In fact, the meeting is being seen as the coming of age of Stalin who has lived under the shadows of his illustrious father, a towering national leader.
A perception strategist now closely working with national political parties confirmed that indeed for the BJP no regional party in Tamil Nadu was untouchable and it would, in fact, be eyeing at an understanding with the DMK, which is going to be a natural beneficiary of the people’s anger at the ruling dispensation in the state.
But, political analysts in Tamil Nadu are sure that if the DMK was seen cosying up to the BJP at this juncture, it would score a self-goal. Nitin Gadkari reminded the gathering and Stalin that it was the DMK and the BJP that opposed the Congress in the 1960s. Karunanidhi also opposed the emergency in 1975 and he had shared an excellent relationship with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
All opposition leaders on the dais urged Stalin to follow his father’s path of secularism and fight for federalism at a time when both the ideas were under threat from the Centre. There was also a plea to Stalin to take the lead in the fight against fascist forces.
The politician in Stalin perhaps realised which way the wind was blowing, at least in Tamil Nadu, and chose to step up his attack against Prime Minister Modi and the BJP. It is such strident anti-BJP stance only that can help him quell rumours that the DMK was inching closer to the BJP, opined a political analyst. For the present, public perception is more important for the DMK. After polls, well, anything can happen.