DMK president MK Stalin’s proposal to project Congress Rahul Gandhi as prime ministerial candidate has not only found a few takers within the ranks of the Opposition, but also didn’t go down well with the BJP, with its party general secretary Ram Madhav asserting the PM's post was not vacant for another 10 years.
"We do not know if (any) other thing is cooking...no single party in country has the courage or stamina to take on prime minister Modi or the BJP," Madhav said, calling the opposition's unity efforts a "tamasha".
Targeting Stalin for his criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government, the BJP leader said, "I pity some leaders...khud naam Stalin (a reference to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin) hai... (and) he calls others fascists...We have seen the face of fascism in the state under the great DMK."
Speaking at an event organised to unveil a statue of his father and former Tamil Nadu chief minister K Karunanidhi in Chennai on Sunday, Stalin made a strong pitch for Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate of the Opposition for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, saying the Gandhi scion had the ability to defeat the "fascist" Narendra Modi government.
"In 2018, on the occasion of unveiling Thalaivar Kalaignar statue, I propose, we will install a new prime minister in Delhi. We will build a new India, as the Son of Thalaivar Kalaignar, I propose the candidature of Rahul Gandhi from Tamil Nadu," Stalin said.
However, several Opposition leaders have expressed their reservations over Stalin’s suggestion. Leaders of the Samajwadi Party, the Telugu Desam Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Trinamool Congress, the National Congress Party are understood to have reservations over naming any prime ministerial nominee for the Opposition alliance for the 2019 general elections.
Madhav said Stalin's proposal had not found resonance even within the parties the Congress wants in the proposed grand alliance.
Speaking on the Rafale deal, Madhav challenged the opposition to a debate in Parliament in the presence of all its members instead of seeking an "escape route" of a Joint Parliamentary Committee, which would comprise only 25-30 members.
"We are challenging the Opposition. If they are ready, let us debate it (the Rafale issue) in Parliament. They cannot take an escape route in the name of JPC and try and continue their propaganda of lies....this shall not be allowed."
"JPC is not more powerful than Parliament which is supreme," he told a press conference.
(With PTI inputs)