Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s three-day tour of Tamil Nadu ruffled feathers in the DMK — the Congress’ ally both at the Centre and in the state.
The Congress has been a marginal player in the southern state for the last 42 years and Gandhi is trying to revive its fortunes there by organising a membership drive and elections to the state unit of the Youth Congress. A Congress revival in Tamil Nadu would adversely affect the DMK.
DMK leaders were upset over Gandhi seeking to boost the Congress prospects in the state at their party’s cost. They were also unhappy about Gandhi not seeking an appointment with their Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.
Gandhi, however, sought to downplay the issue. “There is nothing out of the ordinary in this (not meeting Karunanidhi). There is a regular touch and communication between us and the DMK chief. I am a great admirer of Karunanidhiji.”
The 39-year-old Congress leader emphasised the need to revive the party before the 2011 assembly elections. “Our aim should be to go as close to people as possible, go to villages and panchayats and understand what they want. That is our roadmap,” he said.
Considered the chief architect of the party’s go-in-alone formula in Uttar Pradesh, where it won 21 Lok Sabha seats, Gandhi, however, ruled out its application across the country. “The idea that the Uttar Pradesh concept can be applied universally around the country is a shallow idea. I think you have to view each state differently and look at the dynamics within that state,” he said.