Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday shared the stage with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi in an election rally, highlighting the strides made by the state under the latter’s leadership.
Addressing a mammoth rally near the Marina beach in Chennai, Gandhi said Tamil Nadu had become a front-ranking state whose ideas of development and welfare were copied by the rest.
Her every mention of Karunanidhi’s name drew a round of applause from the crowd. Said S Rajshekhar, a farmer, after the public meeting was over: “I came all the way to see Sonia Gandhi and am happy to hear her.”
Reading out a long list of achievements of the state government, Gandhi said these were possible because the DMK, led by Karunanidhi, shared the model of government and governance of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
“Our model of government is different from that of other parties,” she said, adding that the Manmohan Singh government at the Centre believed and worked for inclusive development, something that took the benefits of economic growth to all sections of society, especially the underprivileged.
These achievements – midday meal in school, free electricity to farmers, facilities for expecting mothers, or welfare of the dalits and other backward classes – have been pioneering and are well-known in the country, and several others have followed in the Karunanidhi government's footsteps.
Besides, Tamil Nadu was also a leader in information technology, Gandhi said.
Karunanidhi too used the occasion to highlight his government’s demands, prominent among which is including Tamil as an official language at the Centre, in addition to English and Hindi. “When Sonia Gandhi had asked me what you want for Tamil Nadu, promptly I had said 'include Tamil as an official language',” Karunanidhi said.
Urging the people to give another chance to the UPA in the state, Karunanidhi said they had seen what he had done. “It is my duty to appeal to you once again to vote because of the performance.”