Chennai, Aug 28: Moments after his unanimous election as DMK President, M.K. Stalin on Tuesday dispelled notions that his party was leaning towards the BJP by accusing the Modi government of “saffronizing” India and said it should be taught a lesson.
He also charged the BJP-led government with trying to destroy the basics of education, art, culture and religion through religious hatred.
In a hard-hitting speech to delegates at the party’s General Council, which elected him the second President to succeed his father M. Karunanidhi, who held the post for 49 years, Stalin also hit out at the Centre saying it was painful to note that it was destroying policies of egalitarianism, social justice and rationalist thinking.
“The social and political environment that is prevailing now is a big challenge to the self-respect policies. The basics of education, art, literature and religion are being sought to be destroyed by the central government through religious hatred and on the basis of official power.
“The selection process in judiciary, education and state governors and the Centre’s actions are aimed at sabotaging the secular principles,” he said in a speech, at times overtaken by emotion.
Setting two immediate tasks for his party colleagues, he urged them to join him in the fight against the Modi government and also the “spineless” AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu.
“Come, teach a lesson to the Modi government that is attempting to saffronize the whole of India. Unite and come to throw out the spineless AIADMK government in the state,” he said to thunderous applause from the over 1,300 delegates who had earlier approved his election.
Senior party leader Duraimurugan was elected unopposed as Treasurer.
Stalin’s attack on the BJP and the central government assumes significance in the context of speculation of late that the DMK may be softening towards the saffron party after it invited BJP President Amit Shah to a memorial meeting to pay homage to Karunanidhi here on Thursday.
Confessing at the outset that he was not like his father and did not have the command of the language like Karunanidhi, the 65-year-old said he would dare to try new things inspired by the late Dravidian legends Periyar E.V. Ramaswamy and C.N. Annadurai.
He said the DMK was a fort founded on four pillars of rationalism, self-respect, social justice and equality.
“But it is painful to see that the (state) government was spineless and without self-respect and the Centre was trying to destroy equality, social justice and rationalistic policies.”
He charged the AIADMK government with sacrificing people-centric schemes initiated by the DMK and indulging in “daylight loot” of the state.
“The first duty of the DMK is to remove these social evils and rescue the state from the hands of these thieves,” Stalin said, adding that the biggest danger facing the country now was the existence of political parties without any principles with the single aim of targeting offices of power and pelf.
Telling his party colleagues that they would be seeing a ‘new Stalin’ from now on, he said he dreamt of leading the party treating everyone as equal.
“We are not anti-God. Even if we don’t believe (in God) we will respect the beliefs of believers. We will act against whoever commits wrongs, including myself,” he said.
Stalin vowed to fight for restoration of individual right of speech and media freedom, protection of right to hold individual views and oppose parties that attempt to obliterate other languages and view the whole of India on the basis of religion.
“These are not distant dreams but would be put to action just now,” he said.
The election for party President was necessitated by the death of Karunanidhi on August 7.
DMK General Secretary K. Anbazhagan, who has been a long-time associate of Karunanidhi and senior to him in age, formally announced Stalin’s election, saying 1,307 party officials have proposed and seconded him..
Earlier, the General Council condoled the deaths of Karunanidhi, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, the anti-Sterlite copper smelter plant protesters killed in police firing in Tuticorin in May and also the victims of the Kerala floods.
The meeting passed a resolution demanding Bharat Ratna for Karunanidhi and announcing a grant of Rs 2 lakh for over 200 DMK workers and supporters who died of shock after learning about Karunanidhi’s death.