Tamil Nadu

Why Stalin will not desert Rahul Gandhi

Half hour after K Chandrasekhar Rao left his residence on Monday evening, MK Stalin drove down to Anna Arivalayam, the DMK headquarters in Chennai to brief other senior party leaders about what transpired. The DMK chief told his colleagues that he conveyed to KCR that dumping the Congress party is out of the question. 

The message to KCR was sent loud and clear that unlike Telangana, where the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) has spared no effort to dismantle the Congress party, the DMK sees the party as a valuable ally. Which is why, Stalin proposed Rahul Gandhi’s candidature for the PM’s post. In contrast in Telangana, since the December 2018 assembly elections, 11 of the 19 Congress legislators have moved sides, reducing the opposition party to a rump with a dispirited cadre and meagre resources. 

There is a reason why the DMK refuses to part ways from the Congress. A lot of water has flown under the bridge since 2014 when the two parties contested the Lok Sabha elections separately, ending up with a tally of zero. In 2019, Stalin sees Delhi from the prism of Tamil Nadu. 

“We will not entertain KCR if he suggests dumping the Congress. We will not dump Congress for KCR,” said a senior DMK legislator from Chennai, known to be close to Stalin. 

The reason is because DMK expects the AIADMK government to collapse sooner than later and elections to take place later this year. The focus of the DMK then is to ensure it has a formidable rainbow coalition in place, that includes its present allies and perhaps net a couple of smaller parties from the NDA basket. So the question of keeping the Congress out is politically not feasible. 

Two, Stalin during several meetings is reported to have pointed out that there is a solid votebank of 5000 to 10000 Congress votes in every constituency in Tamil Nadu, making it a crucial partner that could tilt the balance. By itself, the Congress is not a power to reckon with in Tamil Nadu but is a value-add. 

Three, Stalin is not convinced by the idea of a regional front taking the lead to form the government. He believes that only a Congress-led government can survive in office for a full term. The model he is looking at is 2004 and not 1996 that KCR is rooting for. 

Realising that the KCR visit may make it seem the DMK is keeping its feet in two boats, Stalin on Tuesday downplayed the meeting and the chances of a Third Front. 

“It does not seem to me that there is a chance for that. However, all that will be decided only after counting on 23 May. He (KCR) did not come to form alliances. He came to Tamil Nadu to offer prayers in various temples and on that basis, sought an appointment with me for a courtesy call. That is all,” said Stalin.  

The other message was intended for a Delhi audience. 

“We are determined to send the ruling BJP government packing and we are doubly sure of making Rahul Gandhi PM,” said Stalin. 

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