In one of the biggest meetings yet of the anti-BJP alliance that has been in the making for months ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, a galaxy of political leaders came together in Chennai on Sunday to commemorate the memory of late Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and vowed to defeat the Modi government.
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, accompanied by her son and Congress President Rahul Gandhi, was in the city to unveil a statue of the Dravidian stalwart, at the invitation of DMK President MK Stalin. While the statue was unveiled at Anna Arivalayam, the DMK headquarters in the city, the leaders made their way to the Karunanidhi memorial on Marina beach to pay their respects to the late leader.
Following this, DMK Treasurer Durai Murugan, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, the Gandhis and MK Stalin gave speeches at the YMCA grounds.
Calling Karunanidhi a democrat and a secularist, Sonia Gandhi said that it is her earnest desire that the âmutual support of the two parties remains strong and steadfast even as we wage a battle with the political forces that are determined to destroy constitutional values, institutions and the idea of India as we know it.'
âAs we stand here today, shoulder to shoulder, in memory of Dr Karunanidhi ji, let the message go to the people of Tamil Nadu, of the country that we are united and determined to protect and preserve our country's constitution and the constitutional values that have built and sustained India over the last 70 years,â the UPA Chairperson said.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi recounted his second last meeting with the late leader, stating that he was humbled by his simplicity, honesty and humility.
âWhile Karunanidhi defended the voice of the people of Tamil Nadu, the institutions of this country and this state, today we have a government that is attacking the voice, culture and institutions of Tamil Nadu and the country. A government that believes that only one idea should run India. A government that believes the billions of voices of this country should not count for anything. A government that does not respect the different languages and cultures of this country,â he said.
He further promised, âI want to tell the people of Tamil Nadu that in memory of Karunanidhi ji and out of respect for your language, culture, and tradition, everybody in India is going to get together and defeat the BJP in the next elections. We are not going to allow the destruction of the idea of India, of our institutions, our Supreme Court, the Reserve Bank of India, the Election Commission. We are going to stand together and do this.â
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who has been actively working to bring together a coalition against former alliance partner BJP, said that the people were victims of the ruling dispensation.
âAll institutions are destroyed. Even in Tamil Nadu, there is a remote government. Control is in Delhi, they are running this government. Federalism is totally destroyed. They are misusing the CBI left and right. It is the premier institution for corruption control. Now it is full of corruption. They are using [institutions] to victimise politicians and business people, not to maintain values,â he said.
CM Naidu also added that the DMK would win all seats from the state in the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 under the leadership of MK Stalin.
Calling Karunanidhi a statesman of extraordinary calibre, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the memory of the late leader is as immortal as the Tamil language, which he fought to preserve.
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy also reminisced about his personal relationship with Karunanidhi, stating that the late leader always spoke about the welfare of the oppressed, Dalits and Adivasis when they two met.
âUnder the leadership of our young leader Rahul Gandhi at the Centre and Stalin in Tamil Nadu, we will bring about change in 2019," he said.