Scoffing at the BJP’s claim of having emerged as the third force in Tamil Nadu, state chief minister and DMK supremo MK Stalin has said it is like a student managing just a 10-point score behind those having 90 and 50 marks.
He also said it was wrong to assume that the BJP won massively in the recently held assembly elections in five states as its tally declined in Uttar Pradesh and its 10 ministers, including one deputy chief minister, lost there, while several key leaders in Goa and the chief minister in Uttarakhand also had to suffer defeat.
“Taking into account the real field conditions of the five state election results, I’ll say it is negative for the BJP,” Stalin told PTI in an interview.
“In UP, they have got fewer seats than last time. The defeat of 10 ministers, including the deputy chief minister, is an expression of popular discontent. The BJP chief minister has been defeated in Uttarakhand and their key leaders lost in Goa too. The party has won only two seats in the Punjab assembly,” said the DMK stalwart, who was on a three-day visit to the national capital.
Asked about the BJP’s claim that it has emerged as the third force in Tamil Nadu, Stalin said, “A boy gets 90 marks in an examination. Another student gets a score of 50. Another one gets 10 points. Would you appreciate a 10-point scorer finishing third?”
After urban local body polls in February, the BJP claimed that it has emerged as the third-largest party in Tamil Nadu after the DMK and the AIADMK.
The local elections saw the ruling DMK relegating its arch-rival AIADMK to a distant second position, after trouncing it in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and then during the 2021 assembly polls. While the DMK won almost two-thirds seats, the BJP managed to make its inroads by winning over 300 seats, though it had fielded candidates for almost 5,600 seats of the total of more than 12,800.
The results prompted the saffron party workers to emphatically remark that the “lotus is blooming” in the Dravidian heartland, while its state chief K Annamalai said the BJP was now officially the third-largest party in Tamil Nadu as it finished second after the ruling DMK in several wards and third after the DMK and the AIADMK in others, while its vote share increased to 10 per cent from 8 per cent across the state and in Chennai it rose to 8.04 per cent from 3 per cent earlier.
After years of nil representation in the state assembly, the party had also seen four of its well-known faces, including BJP Mahila Morcha national president Vanathi Srinivasan, getting elected to the assembly last year.
On many political pundits suggesting that the recent round of assembly polls in five states, including in all-important Uttar Pradesh, indicated a clear win for the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Stalin said parliamentary elections are different from assembly polls.
“The results of the five state assembly elections and the results of the parliamentary elections should not be considered together. (I) Can’t even think (so). Legislative elections will focus on political issues in the state. The parliamentary election will focus on who will be the next prime minister. It is therefore incorrect to predict the combination of the two,” Stalin said.
Moreover, it is wrong to say that the BJP has won hugely in five states, the Tamil Nadu chief minister said.
He further said opposing the BJP is not any personal hatred towards a political party.
“You should not think so. We criticise the policies of the BJP, not of individual persons…. So all our criticisms are principled.”
Stalin also asserted that the DMK’s importance in national politics has always been there.
“DMK has always been the party that plays a key role in who can become prime minister or president of the country. DMK is now the third-largest party in Parliament. We have always been important in national politics and will remain so.”
Asked about his message for all opposition parties for taking on the BJP in 2024, Stalin said, “All parties must realise that unity is strength. Everyone must come together to save India.
“My plea is that if we want to preserve India’s diversity, federalism, democracy, secularism, equality, fraternity, state rights, education rights, we must all leave aside our individual political mindsets and unite.”
The inauguration of the DMK’s office here on Saturday by Stalin saw top leaders from virtually all major opposition parties come together on one stage. They included Sonia Gandhi, P Chidambaram, Farooq Abdullah, Akhilesh Yadav, Sitaram Yechury and D Raja, as well as leaders from parties such as the TMC, BJD, BJD and the TDP.
On the DMK’s alliance with the Congress, which has had a decent electoral representation in the south, the DMK leader said, “We did not work with Congress for any need. We work together on the basis of conceptual agreements.”
“We have mobilised all the secular forces in Tamil Nadu and pushed them (BJP) to the sidelines. We all (allies) continue to have a policy relationship, not just during the election period, but as parties that share constituencies. That is the foundation of our success,” he said.
“It is my wish that the Congress party should develop such principled friendship at the all-India level. I said this while putting my brother Rahul Gandhi on stage when he came to campaign in Tamil Nadu. I also urge the Congress party to focus on the formation of such teams in all states,” he added.