Rahul Gandhi launches UPA's Tamil Nadu campaign for LS polls, says AIADMK govt controlled by PMO

Nagercoil: Launching a frontal attack on the AIADMK-BJP alliance in Tamil Nadu, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday alleged the state government was controlled by the Prime Minister's Office, something that has never happened before.

In his first public rally to launch the UPA poll campaign in the southern state, Rahul said, "Today, the government in Tamil Nadu is controlled by the Prime Minister's Office."

By levelling the accusation, the top Congress leader sought to strengthen the narrative being pursued by ally DMK to target the AIADMK and its coalition partner the BJP.

He also touched other issues being vigorously pursued by the DMK, including the 'attack on Tamil language and culture' by the BJP-led NDA, and the need for a push to the manufacturing sector in the state.

The DMK has been alleging that the AIADMK government was being controlled by the BJP government at the Centre. The MK Stalin-led party has also been claiming that the AIADMK was pressured into going in for a tie-up with the BJP.

Rahul Gandhi launches UPAs Tamil Nadu campaign for LS polls, says AIADMK govt controlled by PMO

Congress president Rahul Gandhi at a rally in Nagercoil on Wednesday. PTI

"In the past when DMK and AIADMK fought each other, there were big leaders on both sides. However, never was a government in Tamil Nadu controlled from Delhi," Rahul said, kickstarting his campaign in Nagercoil in Kanyakumari district.

Reciprocating Stalin's support for him becoming the prime minister, the Congress president said Stalin will be the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

"Within a few weeks, Rahul will become the prime minister. In your (Rahul's) hands the country will be safe we believe," the DMK chief said, sharing the stage with Rahul at a grand UPA poll rally.

The DMK believes that the bypolls to 18 Assembly seats would usher in a regime change in the state.

Bordering Kerala, Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu is the only district where both the Congress and BJP have a significant clout for decades.

Rahul said Prime Minister Narendra Modi felt he could "capture" any Indian institution and control any state by "blackmail" and that he can pressure different states from Delhi.

The top Congress leader said Modi was absolutely wrong and none can pressure and control the Tamil people.

In his first rally after his party inked a poll pact with the DMK, he said Modi had said he wanted to be "chowkidar and not prime minister."

However, "after saying that, the chowkidar gave Rs 30,000 crore to (Reliance Group chairman) Anil Ambani," he alleged.

The prime minister's "entire foundation is built on lies," he said and quoted Tamil saint poet Tiruvalluvar's verse on truth in Tamil, which meant that truth would triumph (apparently referring to the Rafale deal).

"Tamil Nadu has always stood for truth... and the truth will put Modi in jail," he said. Rahul said leaders like DMK patriarch Karunanidhi and former Tamil Nadu chief minister K Kamaraj will continue to live on as they represented the people's heart.

While attacking the Congress, Modi had recently said Kamaraj always wanted a government in power which has zero tolerance towards corruption.

Attacking the prime minister and the Hindutva ideology, Rahul said, Modi was not only attacking "Tamil people," but also every state and every language.

"They believe that one idea should be imposed in the country, which cannot be done. We are not going to let Modi or RSS distort your language and culture... not going to allow them change your history," the Congress chief said.

He said the DMK-Congress alliance was not just political but the parties were wedded in the ideological sphere as well which was a meeting of "hearts and minds."

While Tamil people were for truth, Modi only spoke lies, he alleged and listed the reported claim of the prime minister to "deposit" Rs 15 lakh in bank accounts, and creation of two crore jobs.

He vowed to give a push to the manufacturing sector in Tamil Nadu, if voted to power, and said the state could play a central role in competition with China in manufacturing and generate jobs.

A brand 'Made in Tamil Nadu' will be developed, he said.

DMK has alleged that several industries had gone to neighbouring states in the AIADMK rule which was refuted by the government.

"Today, whenever you look at a cell phone or a shirt, it says 'Made in China'. When we will form governments in Delhi and Tamil Nadu, we will have to write 'Made in Tamil Nadu' behind cellphone, and clothes," he said.

He assured 33 percent quota for women in Parliament and state Assemblies and a job quota to an equal extent.

If voted to power, Congress would carve out a separate ministry for fishermen welfare, Rahul said.

The NDA government has come up with a separate department for them.

Citing the protests led by Tamil Nadu farmers in the past in Delhi, he said his party-led state governments had waived farm loans to assuage their pain.

However, the prime minister has "handed," the entire insurance sector to his friend Ambani and everything was designed to help the richest in the country, Rahul alleged.

On the issue of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, (NEET), he earlier told reporters in Chennai that it was "discriminatory" against youngsters in the state and that was something "we will look into and I think it is resolvable."

DMK had demanded taking Tamil Nadu out of the purview of the NEET to ensure social justice.

Recreating scenes witnessed during prime minister Modi's previous visits to Tamil Nadu when he faced black balloon protests from MDMK and DMK, Hindu Makkal Katchi staged a demonstration protesting Rahul's visit near Nagercoil.

HMK cadres claimed that it was due to the Congress' alleged inaction that Tamils in Sri Lanka were killed during the civil war in 2009 in the neighbouring country.

Also, the state was not getting its share of water in river water disputes, they alleged. Hashtags like #VanakkamRahulGandhi, #GoBackRahul, #GoBackPappu also trended on microblogging site Twitter.

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Updated Date: Mar 13, 2019 22:17:58 IST

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