Stalin’s comment stirs a hornet’s nest

Stalin’s comment stirs a hornet’s nest

The wintry month of December has been countered exceedingly well by the sizzling political heat generated for sure, both during the acrimonious...

The wintry month of December has been countered exceedingly well by the sizzling political heat generated for sure, both during the acrimonious political campaigns from September and also all through the past week as the election results were announced. The expected squabbling and lobbying for grabbing the CM’s gaddi, an enduring trait of the Congress party for decades, took place in all the three states where it won, dying down on expected lines ultimately.

Yet, a scalding impact has been left behind, however temporary, when one of the anti-NDA political outfit’s leader, the DMK party president M K Stalin made a comment that Rahul Gandhi, a successful campaigner during these recent elections should be anointed the PM in a political meeting held at Chennai.

The multiple media platforms, digital and non-digital went into overdrive immediately. Prima facie, there is nothing wrong in what the Dravidian titan, M Karunanidhi’s successor said. If and ever the Congress party led by Rahul Gandhi bests the aggressive and sustained campaign of Narendra Modi and allies, he would be the automatic choice. What raised eyebrows was why did Stalin say this when he had fellow south Indian politicians like Chandrababu Naidu ( with his own political route map) alongside during the meeting in which his illustrious father’s statue was unveiled.

Political comments from Chennai, both from observers tracking the forthcoming elections and dyed-in-the-wool analysts, opine that there is a clear thought process behind the move. From the 2006 elections, (in which the DMK had to ally with the Congress and was forced to give them a considerable share of the seats), the blow hot blow cold relations that Stalin had with the Congress party, both locally and with the high command did not endear him to the GOP bosses.

Then comes the status of the national party, which has been on the fringes of the political scene in Tamil Nadu since 1967. For fifty years and many governments later, the status of Congress is still one that of a piggyback rider, perching itself on either of the two Dravidian parties that it has managed to align with, elections after elections.

Added to this, is the strategy of Stalin in keeping Chandrababu Naidu’s vaulting ambitions of playing the king maker under check. Though NTR had a warm, working relationship with both the Chennai netas – MGR and Karunanidhi – which saw the execution of many welfare projects like the Telugu Ganga project, Naidu has not made any special effort in keeping a viable contact with Tamil politicians, especially post- Jayalalitha’s demise. None knows for sure whether both these leaders, having been in regional politics for more than four decades in their respective states, have an undercurrent of mutual tolerance.

Yet, the pundits know that Stalin can strike a note of acceptability with Rahul Gandhi, who kept the contact with Chennai ongoing all through the last days of both its top leaders – Jayalalitha, initially and Karunanidhi later. Given the weak condition of the Congress in his state, hammering out a political deal with them in Delhi, on the lines of how his father did all through his active public life would surely not be a big deal for him.

“Nehruvin Magale Varuga, Nilayana aatchi tharuga (Welcome, the daughter of Nehru, give us stable governance)” was how Karunanidhi invited Mrs Gandhi during the 1980 Lok Sabha elections as his party actively supported the Congress while his arch rival M G Ramachandran went along with the Janata Party and got routed. That was the 360-degree turnaround by a leader, who was imprisoned by her during the Emergency and his son, Stalin brutally assaulted in prison for his aggressive posturing.

Of course, over the years, this led to a win-win for both the political entities, a trend which extended right up to the time when DMK got a political berth in the central cabinet during V P Singh’s brief rule between 1989-91. Then too, Murasoli Maran, followed by Dayanidhi Maran and not Stalin hogged the limelight in the capital, throughout the 1990s and well into the new millennium.

Since then, the DMK has had to endure bouts of inactivity in Chennai but it kept a channel open with Congress, which was subservient to it in the southern capital, while the Dravidian party acquiesced to it in Delhi. After all, enabling Rahul’s team to have a bigger share of the Lok Sabha seats during 2019 polls and in a reverse deal for the assembly polls (due in 2021 originally) will be a no-sweat scenario for Stalin. With both the Telugu state leaders aiming to grab a larger share of the national spotlight with their respective political formations, an endeavour yet to gain traction, Stalin has clearly decided to stay put in the time-tested track which his father laid for him. Of course, he has his sibling Kanimozhi to represent the cause in Delhi and rumours say, his son-in-law, Sabareesan, too would not be averse to be sprinkled with the upcountry political star dust if situation demands it.

Already, other regional parties in UP like SP and BSP and the ‘forced’ national-turned- regional CPM, Trinamool Congress etc have decided to address this issue in the post-poll scenario. One is not sure whether Stalin sees glittering prospects by having the first mover advantage in keeping Rahul Gandhi in good humour, as the DMK had caused enough embarrassment throughout UPA-II rule. On the flip side, Rahul Gandhi too must be wondering whether he needs ‘friends’ like Stalin or he would be better off doing the hard bargaining with the bua-bhatija combine of Mayawati and Akhilesh and the perennial rebel Mamata Banerjee in the summer of 2019!

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