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Published On: Sun, Jan 20th, 2019

TN Wants Rahul as PM, Why He Didn’t Repeat at Kolkata Rally …?

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MK StalinCHENNAI : Barely a month after backing Rahul Gandhi as the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate, DMK president MK Stalin seems to have toned down his endorsement of the Congress chief. Sharing the stage with leaders of 21 other political parties, including Congress, at Saturday’s ‘United India’ rally in Kolkata, Stalin did not repeat his ‘Rahul for PM’ call, sticking instead to the common opposition theme of dislodging the Narendra Modi government.
Brushing aside speculation of a re-think on his part, Stalin on Sunday said he did not repeat his endorsement of Rahul Gandhi in Kolkata “as the situation is very different in West Bengal”. The DMK chief said the people of Tamil Nadu want Rahul Gandhi as prime minister, which is why he had proposed the Congress chief’s name at a DMK event in Chennai last month.
“I had said this about Rahul Gandhi in Chennai, what was wrong in it? It is the wish and aspiration of the people in Tamil Nadu. But in West Bengal, they have decided to finalise it after the election. It is their wish,” news agency ANI quoted Stalin as saying.
Stalin’s suggestion that Rahul Gandhi be the united opposition’s prime ministerial candidate had rattled many, including Mamata Banerjee, who has positioned herself at the forefront of the anti-BJP alliance, and Akhilesh Yadav, who recently stitched a partnership with Mayawati in UP looking straight through the Congress.
But when at a grand meeting of opposition leaders in Kolkata on Saturday, hosted by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, Mr Stalin restrained from repeating his endorsement of Rahul Gandhi, he was needled by the BJP. Why couldn’t he say so in Kolkata? the BJP asked, claiming it exposed chinks in the proposed national alliance of the opposition parties.
“Last month, Stalin said Rahul Gandhi will be the prime ministerial candidate in Chennai. He could not say so in Kolkata. Such deviation showed his hesitancy and obstacles. These contradictions revealed the incohesion in the opposition unity,” BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit president Tamilisai Soundararajan told news agency pti.
Stalin skipping Rahul Gandhi’s mention in Kolkata can also be seen as a move to placate host Mamata Banerjee who was said to be unhappy over his “premature” pitch for Rahul Gandhi as PM.  At the rally organised by Mamata Banerjee on Saturday, Stalin termed the upcoming Lok Sabha elections as the “second freedom struggle” for the people of India against “radical Hinduism” of the BJP.

“The next (Lok Sabha) elections will be the second fight for Independence. We will stop this poison of Hindutva and radical Hinduism from spreading. Our call is to defeat Modi and save the country,” he said at the Brigade Parade Grounds in Kolkata. Criticising the central government, Stalin accused it of working for corporate houses. “If Modi is back in power, the country will go back 50 years,” he said.

“I had announced Rahul Gandhi’s name at a function organised by the DMK. This is what the people of Tamil Nadu want. The situation is different in other states. In West Bengal, they decided to finalise the name after the election. It is their wish,” Mr Stalin clarified. Stalin has credited the Congress chief for the party’s victories in three heartland states and believes that “Rahul Gandhi has the ability to defeat the fascist Modi government and projecting him as the next prime minister is the right thing”.

He referred to the DMK’s history with the Gandhi family to make his point. In 1980, he said, his father and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi’s call to Indira Gandhi led to her victory. “In 2004, Congress captured power after Karunanidhi endorsed Sonia Gandhi,” he added.
But West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had shot down the idea soon after. So did many others. “I am not alone (in the proposed alliance). We are working together. Whatever the political parties decide, we will accept that. Now is not the right time,” Ms Banerjee had said.(With Agency Inputs ).

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