Days after the Rahul Gandhi led Congress party scripted an emphatic victory in the assembly elections in the Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, DMK president MK Stalin Sunday made a strong pitch for Congress chief Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate of the Opposition for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The DMK president made the proposal while speaking at a rally attended by chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, N Chandrababu Naidu and Pinarayi Vijayan, respectively.
Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi and party president Rahul Gandhi were also in attendance at the event.
The outcome of the recent round of Assembly polls, which could be a bellwether for the coming general elections, has clearly boosted the leadership profile of Congress president Rahul Gandhi who had all along been flayed for his party’s poor showings in state after state earlier. This also came on the first anniversary of his appointment as Congress president.
However, Stalin’s pitch for Gandhi as the PM candidate in 2019 did not see an enthusiastic response from the Opposition.
Reports said that the Samajwadi Party, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party, Trinamool Congress, Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference, Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal and the CPM have objected to the suggestion.
“A number of opposition leaders are understood to have reservations against naming anyone as the prime ministerial face. The SP, TDP, BSP, TMC, and NCP disagree with Stalin’s announcement. It is premature. The PM name is to be decided only after the Lok Sabha results,” a top opposition leader said.
Stalin proposed Rahul Gandhi for the top post saying the Gandhi scion had the ability to defeat the “fascist” Narendra Modi government.
“Rahul has got the ability to defeat the ‘Fascist Nazist’ Modi government. I appeal to all my respected party leaders on the dais. We will strengthen the hands of Rahul Gandhi. We will save this nation,” Stalin said.
Stalin’s plea is in line with the tradition of his late father K Karunanidhi who had earlier invited Indira Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi for leadership roles.
Stalin recalled that Karunanidhi had in 1980 declared “Welcome daughter of Pandit Nehru. Give a Stable Regime” while extending support to the late Indira Gandhi. Similarly, he had made an invitation to Sonia Gandhi in 2004, saying “Welcome daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi, India’s daughter should Win”.
“In 2018, on the occasion of unveiling Thalaivar Kalaignar statue, I propose, we will install a new prime minister in Delhi. We will build a new India, as the Son of Thalaivar Kalaignar, I propose the candidature of Rahul Gandhi from Tamil Nadu,” Stalin said.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi had earlier in October said that he was willing to be the Prime Minister if allies want him to be.
The Congress party has not yet decided on a prime ministerial face. It has only formed a two-stage process for the 2019 polls – one is to get together and defeat BJP and stage two is the decision on who will be the Prime Minister.
In an interesting revelation, Former Finance Minister and senior party leader P Chidambaram had said that Congress will not project its president Rahul Gandhi or any other leader as the prime ministerial candidate in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP has mocked the opposition stance, with its national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya insisting that the opposition declare a prime ministerial candidate before thinking of defeating the Narendra Modi government.