“As the son of Dr. Kalaignar from Tamil Nadu I propose the candidature of Rahul Gandhi. Welcome Rahul Gandhi, give the nation good governance’ – thus spoke M.K. Stalin at Chennai on Sunday after Rahul’s mother Sonia Gandhi had unveiled the statue of late DMK Chief M. Karunanidhi.
Stalin’s invite to Rahul to lead the next government is almost an echo of his father’s similar bidding to Rahul’s mother Sonia Gandhi and before that to his grandmother Indira Gandhi. On both occasions Karunanidhi’s call had proved prophetic as the Congress went on to form governments after the Lok Sabha elections.
In 1980 Karunanidhi had revived the DMK’s ties with the Congress unmindful of Indira Gandhi’s dismissal of his government in 1976 during the Emergency. Sensing that the Janata Party experiment had failed and people yearned for a stable government, Karunanidhi tied up with the Congress saying that the nation needed Indira Gandhi’s leadership. “Come Nehru’s daughter, give a stable government,” was his clarion call at a public meeting on the Marina beach which was jointly addressed by him and Indira Gandhi. The DMK-Congress alliance swept the 1980 Lok Sabha elections while Mrs. Gandhi became the Prime Minister again.
But the DMK-Congress alliance came a cropper in the subsequent Assembly elections with MGR winning his second term. The Congress quickly dumped the DMK and shook hands with the AIADMK with which it went on fight three Lok Sabha elections before Jayalalithaa chose to ally with the BJP in 1998.
In 2004 after it had spent more than four years with the Vajpayee government, the DMK walked out of the NDA and joined hands with the Congress headed by Sonia Gandhi. At a public meeting after the DMK-Congress alliance was formalised, Karunanidhi welcomed Sonia with the words, “Welcome Indira’s daughter in law, wish you success India’s daughter.” Those words were also aimed at the controversy over Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin by describing her a daughter of India.
The Congress-led UPA went on to win the 2004 elections though Sonia chose to spurn the PM’s chair. The DMK and Congress successfully fought the subsequent 2009 elections as well though the ties got broken for the 2014 elections only to be revived for the 2016 Assembly elections. Now the two parties have decided to take on the Modi government together for 2019. And Stalin has been the first regional leader to openly declare that the DMK would fight under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership and would like to see him as the Prime Minister.
Like his father will Stalin’s words prove lucky for the Congress and Rahul Gandhi? Watch this space.