Chennai: Putting an end to lingering speculation, DMK President M.K. Stalin on Sunday proposed the name of Congress President Rahul Gandhi for the post of Prime Minister and said he had the strength to defeat the "fascist" Narendra Modi.
He made the announcement at a public rally here in the presence of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Chief Ministers N. Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh), Pinarayi Vijayan (Kerala) and V. Narayanasamy (Puducherry) and leaders of several other parties.
"I propose, we will install a new Prime Minister in Delhi. I propose the candidature of Rahul Gandhi from Tamil Nadu," Stalin said.
He said Rahul Gandhi had the capability to defeat the "fascist" Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "We will strengthen Rahul Gandhi's hands."
The public meeting was held after Sonia Gandhi unveiled former Chief Minister and DMK President M. Karunanidhi's bronze statute installed at the DMK headquarters Anna Arivalayam in Chennai.
Stalin said it was Karunanidhi who first welcomed late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to provide a stable government and then urged Sonia Gandhi to lead the nation in 2004 and added that he was following his leader's steps in proposing Rahul Gandhi to lead the nation.
"Twenty-one political parties have come together against Modi and more parties will join," Stalin said.
Coming down heavily on Modi, the DMK leader said: "Modi is a sadist Prime Minister. He is implementing all the schemes opposed by Tamil Nadu."
Stalin said when the Gaja cyclone killed about 65 persons and left a trail of destruction in Tamil Nadu, Modi remained silent.
On the other hand, Modi tweeted if there was a forest fire in the US and a terror attack somewhere else, he said.
According to Stalin, under the Modi government, India's economy, social justice, federal structure and various institutions have been destroyed.
"India has gone back by 15 years during the first five years of Modi rule. The country will go back by 50 years if he gets another term," Stalin said.
Modi considered himself as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Income Tax Department (IT) and even the Supreme Court.
Addressing the rally, Rahul Gandhi showered praise on Karunanidhi and said: "Karunanidhi was not an ordinary politician. He was the voice of Tamil people. Whether it was people's pain or their joy, Karunanidhi treated both as his own.
"While Karunandihi defended the voice of people and the institutions, the central government attacks the voice of Tamil Nadu and the institutions," he said.
Gandhi said the Modi government believed that only one idea should run India.
"We are not going to allow the destruction of the idea of India. We are not going to allow the destruction of institutions like the Supreme Court, Election Commission, Reserve Bank of India and others. And we are going to do this together."
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Naidu accused the central government of misusing various institutions said the next danger the country faced was the tampering of electronic voting machines (EVM).
Naidu said the BJP government had belied the people's faith when they voted for it in 2014.
Sonia Gandhi described Karunanidhi as a social reformer and said he relentlessly fought for federalism.
She said Karunanidhi brought in laws that enabled non-Brahmins to become temple priests in the state and reserved jobs for women.
"A secularist and rationalist, Karunanidhi respected other religions," she said.
She said the Congress would always remember Karunanidhi's support to Indira Gandhi in the abolition of privy purse and nationalisation of banks.
"He was a great support and strength for the UPA government in 2004-14."
Sonia Gandhi said the mutual support between the DMK and Congress that existed when Karunanidhi was alive would continue "to protect the India that we have known".
The Chief Ministers of Kerala and Puducherry praised Karunanidhi on the occasion.