2019 polls: Does Stalin have a national or notional role?

Chandrababu Naidu and Stalin in Chennai.

Chennai: During the late 1990s, when reporters asked M Karunanidhi whether he would aspire for the Prime Minister’s post, the reply from the then Chief Minister and DMK president was: “En uyaram enakku theriyum” (I know my height). Till the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, he was the active kingmaker in Indian politics, as the DMK was instrumental in the making of many PMs.

Cut to the present: M K Stalin is now the supremo of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and with the country getting ready for parliamentary polls, parties are ganging up against the ruling BJP and leaders from across the country are visiting the ‘Kazhaga Thalaivar – Thalapathy’.

In the past one week alone, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP boss N Chandrababu Naidu, All India Congress Committee secretary Sanjay Dutt and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury had called on Stalin in Chennai, underscoring the importance of the DMK in the formation of a national-level front against the Bharatiya Janata Party.

That too, Naidu had uttered these gems after his meeting with the DMK supremo: “Even Stalinji is better than Narendra Modiji… there are strong leaders… we will work that out and decide (on who would lead the alliance).”

Naidu had dismissed reports that he was aspiring for the top post and said he was not the face of the anti-BJP front which he was trying to forge. “We are all together. I am only bringing everybody together on one platform. They will decide how to take it forward,” he said.

Yechury meets Stalin in Chennai.

And during the meeting Stalin had with Sanjay Dutt, who is one of the two AICC secretaries in charge of Tamilnadu, reliable sources said the two leaders discussed, among other issues, Stalin meeting Naidu. Interestingly, or incidentally, Tamilnadu Congress Committee (TNCC) president S Thirunavukkarasar did not accompany Dutt for the meeting.

Yechury, who called on Stalin Tuesday evening, said, “We have decided today that in Tamilnadu, we will be with the DMK in the forthcoming elections. We are together on the issue of saving the unity, integrity and harmony of the people of India and the country’s constitutional institutions.”

Stating that his meeting with Stalin was fruitful, the CPI(M) leader added that the basic agenda was that all patriotic, secular forces in India should come together and India needed to be saved from the “onslaught of the BJP and the manner in which it was running the country”.

Though these leaders are particular about joining forces with the DMK, BJP seems unperturbed. The national party’s State president, Tamilisai Soundararajan, is hopeful that the NDA government would return to power after the next general election. “The forces that are uniting now were against the BJP anyway,” she said.

Political analysts feel that the future of the DMK lies purely on the number of seats it wins in the Lok Sabha elections. “If the party continues its poor show in the polls, it will surely be ditched by other parties. On the other hand, it is worth mentioning here that despite winning 37 seats in 2014, the AIADMK became insignificant since the BJP had comfortable majority,” they say.

M Bhaskar Sai