Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday made a blistering attack on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, calling him corrupt and alleged that he was being controlled by the RSS.
“Bowing down to anyone is not Tamil culture. The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Bows Down To PM Modi,” he said during DMK-Congress’s mega show of strength in Salem, an AIADMK bastion and Chief Minister’s home turf.
“This is AIADMK with a mask. The RSS is behind the mask. The AIADMK is now a hollow shell controlled by the RSS,” he said.
Mr Palaniswami has defended his alliance with the BJP saying their cordial relationship paved way for central schemes and allocation of more funds for the state, particularly during calamities like cyclones.
In 2019, the DMK-Congress alliance swept polls in Tamil Nadu, winning 38 of the 39 seats. With the ruling party continuing it’s alliance with the BJP, the lead opposition is working hard for a repeat performance.
The AIADMK has allotted 20 seats for the BJP and the DMK has parted with only 25 seats against the 41 the national party contested in 2016. With the Congress losing two successive elections at the centre, MK Stalin has suggested Rahul Gandhi to tweak his alliance strategy. He said, “With just 37 per cent vote share, the BJP is ruling as the votes have got split among many parties… I ask you affectionately to take responsibility for an all-India alliance at the centre.”
As the AIADMK is aiming for a third term, the DMK is trying to capture power after being out of power for ten years. With stakes so high, both sides have resorted to tall populism. From AIADMK’s free washing machines, six free cylinders a year to DMK’s Rs 5 cut in petrol price and Rs 4 in diesel price, free bus rides for women and free tabs with data for students.
Being the first election after the death of two icons, Jayalaithaa and Karunanidhi, this poll would determine the next big mass leader between Mr Stalin and Mr Palaniswami among others like Kamal Haasan.
For Rahul Gandhi, the DMK alliance’s victory is equally important for a turnaround for Congress’s fortunes after a series of defeats or government collapses. For the BJP, an AIADMK win would mean expansion of NDA’s footprint in the south beyond Karnataka.
The Tamil Nadu assembly elections will be held in a single phase on April 6 and the counting of votes will be done on May 2.