With ‘social justice’ event today, DMK chief Stalin plants his feet in the shifting Opposition space – The Indian Express

The conference that is scheduled to take place under the banner of the All India Social Justice Forum in Chennai on Monday will see the participation of 20 political parties and is another indication of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin’s role in working towards an Opposition unity that could take on the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
A top DMK leader told The Indian Express that the seminar “symbolised the growing momentum towards a united Opposition”. “Stalin’s influence is not only limited to Tamil Nadu and Kerala but extends across various states. We hope to make him an instrumental figure in the Indian political landscape,” the leader said.
Anotther “key event” would follow soon after the Chennai rally, the DMK leader said, pointing out that on April 5, the Supreme Court will hear the joint petition signed by a “legal coalition” of 14 Opposition parties against alleged misuse of Central agencies.
The Chennai rally comes close on the heels of Stalin’s participation in the centenary celebrations of the Vaikom Satyagraha on Saturday, where he shared the stage with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and sent out strong signals of unity with the CPI(M).
The All India Social Justice Forum was floated by Stalin in February 2022 as an initiative to build a united Opposition against “bigotry and religious hegemony”. The CM had then sent a letter to 37 political parties, urging them to join forces to protect the interests of the oppressed.
The Monday conference’s guest list includes Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, the Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh, and senior Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien, among others.
Stalin’s ties with Pinarayi, Andhra Pradesh CM Jagan Mohan Reddy, his Telangana counterpart K Chandrashekar Rao or KCR, and their Delhi colleague Arvind Kejriwal, apart from the Congress which is an ally in power in Tamil Nadu, makes him a key asset for the Opposition.
However, the road is ridden with obstacles. Stalin has repeatedly warned that any move to create a “third front” would only serve to strengthen the BJP; and one view is that such a coalition should not keep out the Congress. However, the CPI(M), especially in the south, would be reluctant to join an alliance including the Congress, as will be the AAP and TMC.
The Vaikom event was further assertion of Stalin’s outreach to Pinarayi. “We share the same soul even if we are physically two,” he told his Kerala counterpart. He also peppered his speech with Malayalam, which he called “a language that belongs to the Dravidian family”.
மீண்டும் தலைத்தூக்க நினைக்கும் சனாதன – மதவாத சக்திகளிடமிருந்து நம் நாட்டு மக்களைக் காக்க #VaikomSatyagrahaCentenary கலங்கரை விளக்காக அமையும்!
நாராயண குரு, தந்தை பெரியார் போன்றவர்களால் பண்படுத்தப்பட்ட நம் கருத்துகள் நாட்டுக்கே வழிகாட்டட்டும்! pic.twitter.com/l1zVQE3R6b
— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) April 1, 2023
The DMK leader said that the Vaikom Satyagraha of 1924 was “not only about Kerala but also benefited Tamil Nadu and India as a whole as a social justice movement”. Calling Tamil social reformer Periyar a “global leader,” he recalled Periyar’s active participation in the Satyagraha. “Self-respect, rationality, socialism, equality, humanism, non-discrimination on the basis of blood and gender, women empowerment, social justice, scientific temper, and secularism were the ideals that Periyar stood for,” Stalin said.
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