BJP leader and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched the campaign of the AIADMK-led front for the Lok Sabha election in Tamil Nadu by focussing on the theme of the need to fulfil regional aspirations and accusing the Congress of being guided by the culture of “high command and family first.”
Addressing a public meeting in Kilambakkam on the outskirts of Chennai, Mr. Modi, who earlier inaugurated a slew of infrastructure projects in the State, said support to the Congress and its allies meant “decisions will be taken, [by] sitting in air-conditioned rooms in Delhi and not in villages of Tamil Nadu.”
Pointing out that “India is a diverse nation,” he emphasised that the country would never progress “till regional aspirations are met.”
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which now included the AIADMK and several other parties of Tamil Nadu, was “best placed” to take care of requirements, as “our decisions are not taken by the high command in Delhi.”
He contended that the Congress had been humiliating “strong regional leaders.”
People of the State would “never forget how one family insulted [former Chief Minister] K. Kamaraj” for having spoken for the people and democracy. “He challenged corrupt and dictator-like practices of one family.”
Recalling that the Congress, when in power at the Centre, had used Article 356 “many, many times” to dismiss duly-elected State governments, of which former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had removed “50 governments,” he pointed out how the AIADMK Ministry, led by M.G. Ramachandran, was dismissed [in 1980] and the DMK government [in 1976]. Alluding to the decision of the DMK to align itself with the Congress, he said that for the Dravidian party, “opportunism prevails values.”
Chief Minister and AIADMK co-coordinator Edappadi K. Palaniswami praised Mr. Modi for being the only effective leader who could ensure security of the country in the face of attacks of terrorism and challenges being created by other countries. Deputy Chief Minister and the AIADMK coordinator, O. Panneerselvam, said the NDA government at the Centre had been protecting interests of minorities and his party would continue to remain custodian of the minorities. Pattali Makkal Katchi founder S. Ramadoss presented a charter of demands to Mr Modi and wanted languages listed in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution to be made official languages of the Union government.
Notwithstanding Mr Modi’s attack on the Congress, the absence of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) turned out to be the talking point. There were expectations on the part of the AIADMK and allies that the DMDK would eventually join the front by having its nominee sent to the meeting. On the Chennai-Tiruchi National Highway leading to the venue of the meeting, flags of constituents were hoisted on the medians and either side of the highway, the flag of the DMDK could also be spotted. For some time, even the photograph of the DMDK’s founder, Vijayakant was reported to have been displayed at the meeting venue. But, till the end of the meeting, the DMDK did not send its representative. Also, the Tamil Maanila Congress (Moopanar), which was also expected to join the front, also did not make it to the meeting.