Chennai, Aug 31: Union Minister and Tamil Nadu BJP leader Pon Radhakrishnan said on Friday it was unfortunate that Thursday’s memorial meeting for late Chief Minister and DMK president M Karunanidhi was turned into a meeting of allies of DMK to talk politics and “it is an insult to the memory of the leader”.
Radhakrishnan, who attended the meeting in which former BJP president Nitin Gadkari shared the dais with leaders of national opposition parties, said it was used for BJP bashing and it was not in good taste. Gadkari left the meeting half through. His schedule was to reach Chennai at 3.30 p.m., attend the meeting originally scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. and catch the 6.30 p.m. flight. He stuck to that schedule though the meeting started late.
Knowing his tight schedule, DMK president M K Stalin let Gadkari speak first. He confined to the association between Karunanidhi and late Prime Minister A B Vajpayee. It was leaders who spoke later like former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (S), CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechuri and CPI general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy who tore into the Modi regime and Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brian even predicted that if all the regional parties came together, they could capture Delhi.
It was talks like these which made Radhakrishnan comment that the meeting was used to talk alliance politics. The whole issue was mired in controversy from the very outset. Stalin wanted it to be an all-party meeting and so called BJP president Amit Shah. As Congress president Rahul Gandhi had deputed AICC general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad, Shah also sent Gadkari in his place.
But the point is the BJP honoured the invitation. Besides Gadkari, BJP national secretary in charge of Tamil Nadu affairs Muralidhar Rao was also on the dais at that meeting while among the audience were former RSS ideologue and current BJP member Ram Madhav, State BJP president Tamilisai Sundararajan and others.
And they came for the meeting even after Stalin, on taking over as party president, launched a frontal attack on the Modi Government. One purpose of Stalin’s harsh attack was to put an end to media speculation that he was moving closer to the BJP following the invitation to Amit Shah.
Having invited all parties ranged against the BJP at the national level, there was no way Stalin could have expected them not to talk politics.
The irony is that speakers made their attack on BJP relevant by recalling Karunanidhi’s commitment to secularism, federalism and democracy which they felt were under stress in present times. Never mind, Karunanidhi joined the NDA under Vajpayee after AIADMK leader J Jayalalitha pulled it down in 1999, the simple logic being that the two kazhagams cannot be on the same page. Jayalalitha called her support to the Vajpayee Government as mistake and apologised to Muslims. Yet, she cosied up to Narendra Modi later, that too after the Gujarat riots.
Karunanidhi was no different. When Vajpayee sought the confidence vote in 1996, DMK ideologue Murasoli said his party was opposed to all that the BJP stood for-- Hindi, Hindu and Hindutva. And yet Murasoli Maran justified the change in stand in 1999 by recalling his earlier statement in Parliament Vajpayee was” the right man in the wrong party”.
The DMK enjoyed power at the Centre under NDA for five years, even after Gujarat happened. It pulled out only after Maran’s death. Vajpayee attended his funeral in Chennai. Even before his plane reached Delhi, Karunanidhi pulled the plug.
Indian Union Muslim League chairperson Khader Mohideen said at the memorial meeting that Karunanidhi was neither a leftist, not a rightist, but a humanist. He would have been more accurate if he had called Karunanidhi a pragmatist who put ideology in the back burner as Vajpayee did of all contentious issues to find a common ground with 23 allies.