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Third Force Claim with 10% Score: Stalin's Jibe at BJP in Tamil Nadu

Stalin, who was in the national capital on a three-day visit, said his government has reduced unnecessary expenses in terms of finances.

Tamil Nadu

Image credit: The Indian Express

New Delhi: Scoffing at the BJP's claim of having emerged as the third force in Tamil Nadu, state chief minister and DMK supremo M K Stalin has said it is like a student managing just a 10-point score behind those having 90 and 50 marks.

 He also said it was wrong to assume that the BJP won massively in the recently held Assembly elections in five states as its tally declined in Uttar Pradesh and its 10 ministers, including one deputy chief minister, lost there, while several key leaders in Goa and the chief minister in Uttarakhand also had to suffer defeat.

"Taking into account the real field conditions of the five state election results, I'll say it is negative for the BJP," Stalin told PTI in an interview.

 "In UP, they have got fewer seats than last time. The defeat of 10 ministers, including the deputy chief minister, is an expression of popular discontent. The BJP chief minister has been defeated in Uttarakhand and their key leaders lost in Goa too. The party has won only two seats in the Punjab Assembly," said the DMK stalwart, who was on a three-day visit to the national capital.

Asked about the BJP's claim that it has emerged as the third force in Tamil Nadu, Stalin said, "A boy gets 90 marks in an examination. Another student gets a score of 50. Another one gets 10 points. Would you appreciate a 10-point scorer finishing third?"

 After urban local body polls in February, the BJP claimed that it has emerged as the third-largest party in Tamil Nadu after the DMK and the AIADMK.

 The local elections saw the ruling DMK relegating its arch-rival AIADMK to a distant second position, after trouncing it in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and then during the 2021 Assembly polls. While the DMK won almost two-thirds seats, the BJP managed to make its inroads by winning over 300 seats, though it had fielded candidates for almost 5,600 seats of the total of more than 12,800.

The results prompted the saffron party workers to emphatically remark that the "lotus is blooming" in the Dravidian heartland, while its state chief K Annamalai said the BJP was now officially the third-largest party in Tamil Nadu as it finished second after the ruling DMK in several wards and third after the DMK and the AIADMK in others, while its vote share increased to 10% from 8% across the state and in Chennai, it rose to 8.04% from 3% earlier.

 After years of nil representation in the state Assembly, the party had also seen four of its well-known faces, including BJP Mahila Morcha national president Vanathi Srinivasan, getting elected to the Assembly last year.

 On many political pundits suggesting that the recent round of Assembly polls in five states, including in all-important Uttar Pradesh, indicated a clear win for the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Stalin said parliamentary elections are different from Assembly polls.

 "The results of the five state Assembly elections and the results of the parliamentary elections should not be considered together. (I) Can't even think (so). Legislative elections will focus on political issues in the state. The parliamentary election will focus on who will be the next prime minister. It is therefore incorrect to predict the combination of the two," Stalin said.

Moreover, it is wrong to say that the BJP has won hugely in five states, the Tamil Nadu chief minister said.

He further said opposing the BJP is not any personal hatred towards a political party.

"You should not think so. We criticise the policies of the BJP, not of individual persons.... So all our criticisms are principled."

Stalin also asserted that the DMK's importance in national politics has always been there.

"DMK has always been the party that plays a key role in who can become prime minister or president of the country. DMK is now the third-largest party in Parliament. We have always been important in national politics and will remain so."

Asked about his message for all opposition parties for taking on the BJP in 2024, Stalin said, "All parties must realise that unity is strength. Everyone must come together to save India.

"My plea is that if we want to preserve India's diversity, federalism, democracy, secularism, equality, fraternity, state rights, education rights, we must all leave aside our individual political mindsets and unite."

The inauguration of the DMK's office here on Saturday by Stalin saw top leaders from virtually all major opposition parties come together on one stage. They included Sonia Gandhi, P Chidambaram, Farooq Abdullah, Akhilesh Yadav, Sitaram Yechury and D Raja, as well as leaders from parties such as the TMC, BJD, BJD and the TDP.

On the DMK's alliance with the Congress, which has had a decent electoral representation in the south, the DMK leader said, "We did not work with Congress for any need. We work together on the basis of conceptual agreements."

"We have mobilised all the secular forces in Tamil Nadu and pushed them (BJP) to the sidelines. We all (allies) continue to have a policy relationship, not just during the election period, but as parties that share constituencies. That is the foundation of our success," he said.

"It is my wish that the Congress party should develop such principled friendship at the all-India level. I said this while putting my brother Rahul Gandhi on stage when he came to campaign in Tamil Nadu. I also urge the Congress party to focus on the formation of such teams in all states," he added.

Talking about the progress his government has made in the state, Stalin said that the state's administration and financial management were badly degraded for 10 years, but the DMK dispensation has taken proactive steps in its first 10 months towards planning for the future rather than merely blaming previous regimes.

He also said that the criticism by the BJP and the AIADMK of his various policy initiatives and other steps, including his trip to Dubai to garner investments, was proof of his success and asserted that all election promises made by the DMK have either been fulfilled already or are in the process of being completed.

Asked about the challenges before him and how does he plan to implement his hugely anticipated promises such as the Rs 1,000 per month rights assistance for women and tax cuts on petroleum products, in addition to the already effected tax cut on petrol, Stalin said, "Instead of merely blaming the past, we are taking proactive measures and we have been progressing in the last 10 months of the DMK government. Within 10 months of starting the next phase of work, we are making progress in all sectors towards the ascent," the DMK supremo told PTI in an interview here.

Stalin, who was in the national capital on a three-day visit, said his government has reduced unnecessary expenses in terms of finances.

"We have reduced the deficit gap and we are multiplying financial revenues. A lot of new businesses are being started. We are hosting the Business Investors Conference. The new export policy has been passed. I have recently attracted an investment of Rs 6,100 crore through a trip to Dubai. We have thus continued to pave the way for the expansion of financial management," he said.

 He further said that the DMK government has fulfilled most of its promises.

"We have given Rs 4,000 each to 2.13 crore people as corona relief, 13 grocery items for free to family card holders and 22 items to 2.13 crore families as Pongal gifts. Free bus service is provided to women, 14 lakh jewellery loans have been written off.

"Up to Rs 2,000 crore has been lent to women's self-help groups. Price of milk supplied by state-run Aavin was reduced by Rs 3 per litre. Petrol has been reduced by Rs 3 per litre. We have launched new programmes such as the doorstep healthcare scheme and the education at doorstep scheme, and I am the first to do so," he said.

Stalin further asserted, "We will definitely implement the scheme of Rs 1,000 entitlement for the woman mentioned by you. The list of eligible candidates is being compiled for the benefits to be given."

"We are not just talking about challenges, we are moving towards future planning. We will surely regain the lost pride of Tamil Nadu soon," the chief minister said.

The DMK has also demanded Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai to tender an unconditional public apology to Stalin and pay Rs 100 crore as damages to the chief minister's relief fund for allegedly making "false, frivolous, vile and scandalous" remarks against the chief minister in connection with his Dubai visit.

Talking about the outcome of his Dubai visit, Stalin said memorandums of understanding (MoUs) have been signed with companies from six of the most important industries, Rs 6,100 crore worth of contracts have been signed, which is expected to provide employment to 14,700 people.

 "I went to Dubai and Abu Dhabi and met with ministers of important ministries, government officials and leaders of large enterprises in the country. Their visit will lay the foundation for the development of Tamil Nadu. Textile, medical services, food processing and iron ore sectors will grow. In that sense, the trip to Dubai has laid the foundation for the development of Tamil Nadu. Otherwise, I do not care about their criticism," he added.

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