Stalin goes for image makeover, woos TN youth

Stalin goes for image makeover, woos TN youth

Stalin goes for image makeover, woos TN youth

Dressed in bright formal wear and hopping a bicycle, scooter and autorickshaw, DMK Treasurer M K Stalin has gone in for a rapid image makeover, in a bid to reach out to the people especially youth, ahead of the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu next year.

Sporting stylish sunglasses and sports and canvas shoes, 62-year-old Stalin, son of party patriarch M Karunanidhi, has shed the trademark attire of white shirt and dhoti (traditionally worn by politicians in this region) for the first time in his political career spanning four decades.

The makeover is perceived as an attempt to arrest the attention of the youth in the age group of 18-29, who make up about 21 per cent of the state's 5.5 crore electorate.

The reach out plan christened "Namakku Naame Vidiyal Meetpu Payanam" (We for ourselves, journey to retrieve dawn) began on September 20 in Kanyakumari district and is aimed at covering all the 234 assembly constituencies in the state.

Seeking to connect personally with the people, Stalin, considered the political heir-apparent of Karunaidhi, rides a bicycle, scooter and travels in autorickshaws, buses and shakes hands with common man, something not attempted by him before or by other top state politicians.

As part of the campaign, the DMK leader has tea and refreshments at roadside eateries, food with students, workers and farmers. He is also careful in making symbolic gestures like lending a helping hand to an elderly woman in her spinning wheel.

The makeover is complete not only in style, but in substance too, with the leader interacting with people directly and holding meetings with small groups in little towns and listening to the grievances of working classes belonging to various fields like salt pan labourers.

However, the ruling AIADMK and PMK have pooh-poohed the campaign and Stalin's image makeover.

AIADMK mouthpiece 'Dr Namadhu MGR' lambasted Stalin and sarcastically remarked that the "we for ourselves," campaign points to the dominance of Karunanidhi's family in DMK.

"While Karunanidhi is party president, his son Stalin is Treasurer, Kanimozhi heads women's wing and it (campaign) only states that its only we (Karunanidhi's family), always and everywhere (in the party)," it said.

Criticising Stalin, PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss, who is also the party's Chief Ministerial candidate, said the campaign was nothing but a "stunt".

"What Stalin is doing is nothing new. Such things have already been tried by people like Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. It is aimed at attracting people. However, there is no change in their principles towards issues," noted political commentator A Marx told PTI.

Undeterred by the criticism, Stalin, called as 'Thalapathy' (commander) by his followers, has claimed an "overwhelming" response from the public for his tour.

"The response of the people for my campaign was more than what I expected. People also reveal to me their anguish, grievance and disappointment over the ruling party without any inhibition," he claimed in a statement after covering parts of the southern districts in the first week of the tour.

Stalin had so far confined himself to addressing public meetings and delivering speeches from open-top vans and jeeps.

Aggressively trying to wrest power from arch-rival AIADMK, the DMK leader has of late been consciously vying to adapt his style to attract young voters.

Besides, he is also active on social media with regular updates on both Facebook and Twitter.
DMK had been hit by electoral routs in the 2011 assembly polls followed by last year's Lok Sabha elections and is keen on coming back to power in the state next year. 

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