Rahul fails to meet MK, raises DMK hackles

Rahul fails to meet MK, raises DMK hackles

Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi addresses the press in Chennai on Thursday. AFP

Seeking to mollify the UPA’s key ally, DMK, whose cadre were reportedly upset over his not calling on Karunanidhi, AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said he had “full respect” for the DMK chief.

“I have visited Tamil Nadu many many times, three-four times. But I did not meet him during my visits. I have never gone to meet Karunanidhiji.

“There is nothing out of the ordinary in this. There is a regular touch and communication between us and DMK chief M Karunanidhi,” he told reporters before wrapping up his three-day tour of the state.

“I am here only to strengthen the Youth Congress in the state. We have full respect for Karunanidhi. They are our allies. We are an ally with them here and at the Centre. Both the parties are very helpful in Tamil Nadu and at the Centre,” he said.
Gandhi’s comments came amidst reports that the DMK was upset over his not meeting Karunanidhi, breaking the practice of Congress leaders calling on the DMK patriarch during their visits to Tamil Nadu, where it supports the Karunanidhi ministry from outside.

On Wednesday, in a meeting with party workers here, Gandhi said the Congress should give up the practice of riding on the back of Dravidian parties — the DMK and the AIADMK — but work hard to build themselves up. Gandhi, on a mission to rejuvenate the party at the grassroots level, however, said the Congress should take up public issues at the state level and “I hope the DMK would also appreciate that”.Asked whether his party would go it alone in the 2011 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, Rahul shot back: “It is not even on the table.”