Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK chief, M.K. Stalin, takes an active role in promoting the united I.N.D.I.Alliance aim to dismantle what he describes as the ‘autocratic’ rule of the BJP at the Centre. Despite a limited focus on developments outside Tamil Nadu, Stalin is actively portraying the I.N.D.I.Alliance as a united front determined to challenge the authority of the BJP.
With the party already in election mode, speeches from CM Stalin, his son Udhayanidhi, and ally leaders consistently target the BJP. These efforts underline a determined push by the I.N.D.I.Alliance to consolidate its narrative and mount a robust challenge against the ruling party in the upcoming elections.
In a show of strength against the BJP, the Vidhuthalai Chirtuthaigal Katchi, a self-proclaimed anti-Hindu Dalit outfit, organized the “Vellum Jananayagam” conference in Singanallur, Trichy, on January 26. Attended by leaders of several prominent political parties, including DMK, CPI, CPM, CPI (Marxist Leninist), Dravidar Kazhagam, MDMK, Congress, IUML, and Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, the event served as a platform to voice strong opposition against the BJP, Governors, and what they perceive as a threat to federalism.
DMK leader M.K. Stalin, reading from a prepared text, delivered a scathing critique of the BJP, emphasising the need for opposition unity to prevent its return to power at the Centre. Stalin highlighted concerns about the BJP’s alleged attempts to erode federalism, citing the dismemberment of Jammu and Kashmir into union territories as an example. He warned of a potential transformation into an autocratic state under BJP rule.
Stalin urged likeminded parties to work together, recalling the history of the I.N.D.I.A bloc’s formation and subsequent electoral success. He stressed the importance of opposition unity to counter the perceived threat posed by the BJP. Pointing to the BJP’s cancellation of the mayoral election in Chandigarh Corporation, Stalin emphasised the need for a coordinated effort to capitalise on the BJP’s perceived vulnerability.
“We should understand BJP’s fear and make use of it. If we stand united, the BJP will be defeated. It is not enough to say democracy will win. We should work together. We have the responsibility to change India into a real federal government. We should form a federal government at the center and uphold autonomy in the states. If Parliament becomes redundant, democracy dies. Secular parties should come together to save Constitutional rights,” Stalin asserted.
The conference served as a platform for leaders to express their shared objective of preventing the BJP’s return to power. Stalin called for a concerted effort to expose perceived enemies and traitors while urging parties to ensure that votes against the BJP are not scattered.
The leaders at the conference criticised BJP policies and actions, accusing the party of undermining democratic principles. The opposition leaders pledged to work collectively to uphold the Constitution, protect federalism, and resist what they perceived as authoritarian tendencies under the BJP’s rule.
The “Vellum Jananayagam” conference marked a significant gathering of opposition forces, signalling a united front against the BJP ahead of the upcoming elections. The leaders articulated a common goal of opposition unity, emphasising the need to collaborate to safeguard the democratic values enshrined in the Constitution.
The Vellum Jananayagam conference organised by the Vidhuthalai Chirtuthaigal Katchi witnessed the adoption of 33 resolutions, with key highlights including the demand for the abolition of the Governor’s post, a caste-wise census, increased quotas for SCs/STs and OBCs, the abolition of NEET, and a new law to combat honor killings.
Addressing the conference, the organisers stated that the I.N.D.I.Alliance, if it comes to power, will promise voters the abolition of the Governor’s post. The resolutions criticised Governors, alleging that they often act as agents of the ruling party at the Centre, destabilizing or dismissing elected governments and causing splits in parties not aligned with the ruling party’s interests.
The conference also called for a caste-wise census and an increase in quotas for SCs/STs and OBCs based on their population. Another resolution sought the abolition of NEET, a controversial entrance exam for medical courses. Additionally, the conference advocated for a new law to prevent honor killings.
However, AICC president Mallkarjuna Kharge, scheduled to attend, did not appear. Congress MP Thirunavukkuarasar read Kharge’s speech, emphasizing the challenging times faced by democratic ideals.
Critics argue that the I.N.D.I.A bloc’s anti-Hindu stance, opposition to traditional practices, and pro-minority stand may cost the alliance heavily. Congress, particularly, is allegedly being isolated by other partners in northern India due to divergent views within the bloc. They predict a similar fate for the DMK in the coming months if Tamil Nadu’s constitutional rules are not followed.
Critics point to issues such as police misuse to stifle democratic voices, attacks on journalists and Dalits, widespread corruption, and a lack of fiscal planning to address the state’s debt. They also criticise the naming of schemes after Karunanidhi’s name, prioritising political legacies over welfare projects.
Highlighting the alleged unruly behaviour of some I.N.D.I.Alliance cadres, critics draw attention to incidents where party flags of the BJP’s Annamalai’s ‘En Mann, En Makkal Yatra’ were removed near Ulundurpet junction in the presence of police. They accuse the cadres of rowdy acts, questioning the funding sources that keep the party afloat. The questionable wealth of certain functionaries, their ownership of high-end SUVs, and the party’s financial viability are subjects of concern, with critics calling for scrutiny by enforcement agencies.
The critics also express concern over the targeting of wealthy high-caste Hindu girls by VCK cadres in the name of love, alleged blackmail, and subsequent abandonment. They highlight the irony of a party demanding laws against honor killings while engaging in questionable behavior themselves.
As the political landscape intensifies, the Vellum Jananayagam conference resolutions reflect the I.N.D.I.Alliance collective stance, setting the stage for potential electoral promises and political strategies in the upcoming elections. The diversity of resolutions showcases the alliance’s attempt to address a wide range of issues to appeal to a broad voter base.