As MK Stalin Turns 70, Birthday Wishes With a Side Of Opposition Unity
Hundreds of supporters and a few opposition leaders, carrying flowers and gifts, lined up in Chennai today to greet Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on his 70th birthday. The gifts included an unorthodox one — a young camel that lumbered around. A party worker walked it to the hall where the DMK chief met the party cadre.
The expected opposition show of strength, though, is yet to materialise. There has been expectation that the galvanization of the opposition following the arrest of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in connection with the alleged liquor scam, will lead to some concrete steps. Barring the Congress, which took a nuanced position, all opposition parties have slammed the arrest.
Only four leaders are present at the event — Congress’s Mallikarjun Kharge, National Conference patriarch Farooq Abdullah, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Tejashwi Yadav, and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav.
The list of negative RSVP to the DMK invite included Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who decided to skip event as his birthday falls on the same day. Nationalist Congress chief Sharad Pawar, a Congress ally in Maharashtra, has cited poor health.
The list of opposition leaders not invited was longer, laying bare the chinks in the opposition unity ahead of next year’s general election.
It included Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been keeping a low profile since the Presidential election. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal were not invited out of “mutual understanding”.
All three leaders are seen as aspirants for the post of the Prime Minister, which has proved the biggest hurdle in bringing the opposition under one umbrella. In 2019, Mr Stalin had proposed Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the opposition, upsetting several leaders.
This time, Farooq Abdullah said, “We should decide on the best man for PM after the elections. Now we should all fight together”.
“On issues like GST, CAA, all these parties are already opposing ideologically. Of course, the political alliance will be stitched after elections are announced. But already all are working in tandem,” said DMK spokesperson Manu Sundaram.