Chennai: Soon after being elected president of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) for the second term in the party’s general council meeting Sunday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin sounded the poll bugle and asked his party cadres to begin preparations to win all 40 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in 2024 by constituting “inclusive booth-level committees.”
Taking a swipe at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Stalin in his speech said, “They [BJP] will stoop to any level. As they do not have any victories of their own to talk about, they spread rumours about us and do politics,” he said.
“The BJP is breathless in Tamil Nadu as the state’s people do not confuse religion with politics,” he added.
He warned party cadres that they cannot become apathetic because they have won in the Assembly elections. “We must make our victory last,” he said.
Speaking at Sunday’s meet, DMK’s Thoothukudi MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, who was elevated as one of the party’s deputy general secretaries, said: “It hasn’t been even a hundred years since our children started getting the opportunity for education, but already sanatana dharma forces want to send them back home questioning their need for education,” she said.
“Our Dravidian model is bringing equal rights to women, but these forces want to shut women up in kitchens again. Through the National Education Policy and entrance exams, they are plotting to send our children back to do the work they were once doing,” she added.
In August 2018, Stalin was elected president following the death of his father, the former Chief Minister and DMK party president, M. Karunanidhi. After filing his nominations on 7 October this year, he was elected unopposed for the second time.
At the general council meeting, Stalin said that the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) had no other ideology than to oppose the DMK.
“After Jayalalithaa’s death, the party has fallen and split four ways. They have no other ideology than to oppose the DMK,” he said. “This is why today they are in a slump. Only if there are eligible leaders and strong ideals, can any party win.”
He said that the party’s political opponents would try to spread lies about the DMK during elections. “They will try to humiliate us, only our welfare schemes and accomplishments can be an answer to their accusations,” he said.
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In his emotional acceptance speech, Stalin also said that the activities of some of his ministerial and party colleagues gave him “sleepless nights”.
In an overt reference to recent statements made by party leaders that have drawn flak, he told party cadres to exercise caution while making public statements. “I am duty-bound to answer questions from all sides. When I am already in such a position, if party leaders behave in a way that causes me concern, what am I to say? The actions of some ministers are giving me sleepless nights,” he said.
“Your actions should bring you praise, not make you look smaller. Because of the way some have behaved in public spaces, the party has been subject to criticism,” he added.
In September, Stalin in an open letter to party cadres had cautioned about their rivals’ propaganda apparatus, which he termed “venomous political forces”, that could twist any comment and take it out of context. His comments followed DMK leader A. Raja receiving backlash over his speech on Hinduism.
Stalin had urged DMK leaders to “work for the people”, which he reiterated in Sunday’s general council meeting as well, instead of “fighting with mud-dipped enemies”. He quoted social reformer Periyar and said that it was impossible to fight with people “who lack basic dignity.”
“Let us move forward responsibly. When we represent the people, they will respond to these hateful organisations on their own,” he reportedly said.
State irrigation minister Durai Murugan was Sunday re-elected as the general secretary and former Union minister T.R. Baalu as treasurer. Minister for municipal administration K.N. Nehru was appointed as principal secretary headquarters of the party, minister of co-operation I. Periyasamy, minister for higher education Dr K. Ponmudy, Nilgiris MP A. Raja, and Rajya Sabha MP Andhiyur Selvaraj were elected as deputy general secretaries of the party.
The newly-constituted general council’s meeting was held in Chennai’s Aminjikarai and over 5,000 party workers were present at the meeting.
(Edited by Zinnia Ray Chaudhuri)
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