You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Following his father’s footsteps? After b’day bash, Stalin to now host oppn parties at ‘social justice’ meet

The Print logo The Print 01-04-2023 Akshaya Nath
© Provided by The Print

Chennai/New Delhi: At a time when efforts are underway to unite opposition parties against the BJP ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin is set to host a ‘Social Justice Conference’ under the banner of his All India Federation for Social Justice on 3 April. 

The conference will bring together like-minded opposition parties for the second time in a month

Leaders of the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), while speaking to ThePrint, dismissed suggestions that the conference had any larger political goal. However, political analysts feel that though Stalin has donned the succession role in the party and state politics well after his father and DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi’s demise, the CM “still needs to do more to be a nationally prominent leader”.

“Stalin still has to take several proactive steps to bring together opposition in the Centre and be a national figure,” political analyst Priyan told ThePrint. 

This will be the first national conference called under the banner of the All India Federation for Social Justice since its formation in January 2022, another senior DMK leader, who did not wish to be named, to ThePrint.

In January last year, Stalin had said that the Federation will provide “suggestions for all states to agree to laws related to social justice”.

“Everything for everyone” will be the base of this federation that will work to achieve principles of federalism and social justice, he had said.

According to Priyan, the issue of social justice is “strategically” uniting. “Social justice is a plank and will unite many people. Even BJP is looking at the OBC vote bank, which is around 50 per cent.”

The first attempt to get opposition parties together was made on Stalin’s 70th birthday on 1 March. The celebration had turned into a mega show of opposition unity that was attended by leaders such as Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, Bihar deputy chief minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, former Jammu & Kashmir CM and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and Samajwadi Party chief and former Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav. 

Claiming that “talks of a third front are useless,” the DMK chief had at the event called for opposition parties to unite for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. 

Karunanidhi — who was seen as indispensable to national politics, having engineered national alliances on several occasions — too had made a similar attempt. 

According to reports, the former Tamil Nadu CM’s 94th birthday was a similar show of opposition unity with leaders such as Congress’s Rahul Gandhi, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien in attendance. 

Also Read: BJP’s outreach to Pasmandas a minority roadmap for 2024, embraces Savarkar’s idea of India

The Social Justice Conference

The social justice event on 3 April, where Stalin will be chief guest, will be a webinar that will see participation of several national opposition parties. 

According to senior DMK senior leaders, the conference — the theme for which is ‘Taking Social Justice in India Forward’ — will see participants not only from political parties, but also from the civil society, and a lot of other associations. 

The keynote will be given by Stalin, and there will be 25 other speakers who will be addressing the event and have been given “time slots”, said DMK sources.

An opposition party MP scheduled to attend the event on condition of anonymity told ThePrint that Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren has confirmed his presence for the convention. 

According to sources, parties like the Trinamool Congress (TMC), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Samajwadi Party (SP), Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), National Conference (NC), Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), Communist Party of India (CPI), CPI (Marxist), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), and Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) have confirmed their participation.

Political analysts also acknowledged that there has been a “concerted effort” on the part of opposition parties to come together, especially after the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi from Parliament. 

“Arvind Kejriwal, TMC have all come out in support of the Congress despite their differences. We have to acknowledge that the opposition parties have realised that there could be an existential crisis and they should not be fighting with each other. Because of that, these moves (organising meetings) assume greater significance,” said Sumanth C. Raman, a political analyst, to ThePrint.

The opposition MP quoted earlier said regional parties and satraps will be holding meetings with other non-BJP parties in the run-up to 2024 Lok Sabha.

“Each (regional) leader will mobilise opposition support on issues that affect them and their party in their state. For example, it’s the misuse of the CBI and ED for the AAP, discrimination against Bengal for Mamata Banerjee and ‘social justice’ for Stalin”, the MP explained.

The Congress and the AAP have confirmed their presence, but are yet to send names of their representatives, the MP added.

It is also learnt that Stalin even sent an invite to the YSR Congress Party and the Biju Janata Dal — both largely aligned with the BJP — though they are not a part of the BJP-led NDA. If the two parties attend the meet, it will be the first time that they will turn up at such an opposition congregation.

According to the sources in the BJD, MP Sasmit Patra will be representing the party at the convention. However, they added that the party is just looking at it as “issue-specific support” on the theme of social justice.

Andhra Pradesh minister A. Suresh has been deputed to attend the meet on behalf of the YSRCP, sources said. ThePrint tried to contact Suresh via Whatsapp calls and messages, but did not get a response at the time of publishing this article.

Also Read: At Raipur plenary, Kharge reiterates that only Congress can lead opposition alliance

The Opposition unity 

According to analysts, Stalin is well poised to play a role in opposition unity because his is a party that has also been backing the Congress at the Centre. 

“Though the Congress wants to take the lead in bringing together the opposition parties, some others are not willing to give that status to it,” said political analyst Raman, quoted earlier. 

Political leaders like Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) supremo and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao (KCR), Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal have been taking their own lead to consolidate power ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

KCR’s public rally in Maharashtra on 26 March had local leaders belonging to various parties, including Maharashtra NCP. The rally was an event that was seen as KCR’s way of expanding outside of Telangana. Similarly, Mamata Banerjee too has been active in her jibes at the central government.

“Opposition now realises that coming together is the only way to defeat the BJP,” said Raman. 

While KCR, Mamata and Kejriwal might not prefer an alliance with the Congress, “Stalin is someone who is seen to still believe in the Congress,” said Priyan, quoted earlier, adding that Stalin still has scope to work for uniting the opposition in the Centre.

“There are several issues like NEET, GST compensation, governor issue in opposition-led states. There is a lot Stalin has to do before the 2024 polls,” Priyan added.  

(Edited by Richa Mishra)

Also Read: How RJD-JD(U) & MVA made BJP redo list of tough-to-win seats for 2024

More from The Print

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon