Opposition leaders extol Karunanidhi, call for united fight against communal forces

Chennai: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi with Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, JD(U) leader K.C. Tyagi, CPI leader D.Raja, DMK working president M.K. Stalin, CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah during DMK chief Karunanidhi's birthday celebrations in Chennai on June 3, 2017.

Chennai, June 3  Coming down heavily on the BJP-led central government, various opposition parties on Saturday called for a united fight against communalism and fascism that is trying to divide the country as they gathered here to laud the contributions of DMK President M. Karunanidhi.

The DMK meanwhile also hit out at the BJP for trying to “saffronise” the whole country and asserted that it was open to joining the opposition’s efforts.

The opposition leaders were here to participate in the public meeting to celebrate Karunanidhi’s 94th birthday and also his diamond jubilee year in the Tamil Nadu assembly.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi said there is one ideology in the country that thinks it has all the answers and does not talk to others on various issues facing the people.

Recalling how on November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the country’s 1.3 billion people that the money in their pockets will be worthless, he said: “He didn’t ask anybody and decided unilaterally.”

The Congress leader said while the entire world is saying the decline in Indian economy is due to demonetisation, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is of different opinion.

“What Jaitley does not telling you is that Modi did not tell him about demonetisation,” Gandhi said.

“None of us have the arrogance to tell you what is good for you,” he told the gathering.

Pointing to the opposition leaders on the dais and the people off the dais, Gandhi said none of them would allow the RSS to impose its ideology on the country.

Gandhi said Karunanidhi reflected the views of the people in his writings and speeches and thanked his son and DMK Working President M.K.Stalin for organising the meeting.

“One day we will speak about Stalin as we speak about Karunanidhi today,” he said.

Speaking in Hindi which was translated to Tamil, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said Karunanidhi is a tall leader who fought for social justice for downtrodden and backward classes.

He noted it was Karunanidhi who was instrumental in the implementation of Mandal Commission recommendations providing reservation for backward castes during the National Front government led by V.P.Singh.

Communist Party of India National Secretary D.Raja said if Karunanidhi were present on the dais, he would have spoken against the communal politics in the country.

He noted that it was only Karunanidhi who had the guts to ask whether Lord Rama was a qualified engineer to build the Ram Sethu connecting India and Sri Lanka when there was opposition for the Sethusamudaram Canal project.

Raja hoped Stalin would fight to free the country from communal forces.

Nationalist Congress Party’s Majeed Memon said Karunanidhi’s presence is needed to fight the undeclared emergency in the country, when the winds of fascism and communalism are trying to divide it.

Communism Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said the challenges posed by the Modi government have to be met by coming together.

He said by going to the people, political parties can change the discourse of the polity.

National Conference’s Omar Abdullah said the nation needs leaders like Karunanidhi during troubled times.

He said all the leaders on the dais are against the anti-labour, anti-investment policies.

Criticising the Modi government, Stalin said the ruling party is trying to saffronise the whole nation and the major challenge before the people is to protect democracy.

Wondering whether BJP can implement anything just because it has a majority in the Lok Sabha, he said the former has not fulfilled its poll promises during its three years rule.

Asserting that the DMK will not dance to the tunes of the central government, he said it was ready for a political realignment and opposition unity. “We will extend our hands for relationship and would raise our voice for our rights,” he said, adding that the opposition parties would join together to form a secular government.

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