Former Congress president and senior leader Sonia Gandhi is coming to Chennai on Dec 16 for a function being arranged by the DMK for the unveiling of a statue of party founder and four-time Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M Karunanidhi at party headquarters Anna Arivalayam.
Responding to an invitation from party president M K Stalin, Sonia said it was an honour to attend the function as Karunanidhi strove all his life for social justice, democracy and betterment of the poor and the downtrodden.
The DM K in a press release said Sonia has confirmed her participation. Invitation has also been sent to leaders of other national parties .
Closer to the event, the participants will be known. Sonia is sure to be accompanied by other national leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, if not current president Rahul Gandhi as he will be busy with the aftermath of the elections in three States
The bringing together of all secular parties for the statue unveiling is seen as a precursor to a national secular front to take on the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The DMK is already leading a a State-level secular front and the idea is to expand it to all-India level by including other secular parties like the Janata Dal (S), the National Conference, the Trinamool Congress and the CPI and the CPM, besides others the All India Muslim League.
The idea is that regional parties, wherever they are strong, should lead the front and the Congress should be accommodative towards them in States it is strong.
Stalin took such an initiative on the occasion of the 92nd birthday of Karunanidhi so that leaders who had interacted with him during his long political innings could meet him when he was well enough to receive visitors.
That meeting was attended by stalwarts like National Conference leader Farooq Andullah, CPI veteran A B Bardhan, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechuri, Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'brian and an MP from the Telugu Desam, among others.
All these leaders, besides Andhra Chief Minister M Chandrababu Naidu attended the funeral of Karunanidhi early this year, primarily out of respect for him as he had played a crucial role at the national level in bringing regional together, first against the Congress in the1970s and later against the BJP and partly as a recognition that Stalin as his son and successor should take on that role from now on.