Amit Shah to attend Karuna memorial event in Chennai

Amit Shah to attend Karuna memorial event in Chennai

BJP President Amit Shah. PTI Photo

BJP president Amit Shah will attend the special public memorial meeting for late DMK chief M Karunanidhi on Thursday along with leaders from Opposition parties -- a move that has left many tongues wagging in political circles in Tamil Nadu.

This will be the first time that a senior BJP leader with the stature of Shah would be seen alongside DMK Working President M K Stalin, who would have taken over as party president by Thursday, ever since the regional party left the NDA way back in 2003.

From 2003 to till now, the BJP was not part of DMK’s scheme of things – the party singled out the BJP and AIADMK by not inviting them for Karunanidhi’s 93rd birthday celebrations in Chennai last year. The event attended by Congress President Rahul Gandhi and other top leaders was touted as a congregation of anti-BJP leaders.

Though DMK leaders maintain that “no political meaning” should be attached to the August 30 event since it is dedicated to recalling Karunanidhi’s contributions, political circles are abuzz with speculation whether the Tamil Nadu’s opposition party was giving a signal that it was keeping its option open, at least in a post-poll scenario.

Shah will share the dais with Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah, CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and CPI leader D Raja.

Chief Ministers N Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh), Nitish Kumar (Bihar), Arvind Kejriwal (Delhi) and V Narayanasamy (Puducherry) will also address the gathering, according to the invitation sent by the DMK.

The DMK had initially planned to organise a conference on state autonomy on the said date with participation from leaders from Opposition parties across the country but converted it into a memorial event for its chief Karunanidhi, who passed away at 94 on August 7.

“The only addition to the list is BJP and it was made since the event’s format changed. Since Karunanidhi played a major role in national politics by cobbling up coalition governments, it was felt imperative to invite leaders from all parties, including BJP,” a senior DMK leader told DH, refusing to attach any political significance to Shah’s presence.

The DMK also scotched speculation that Rahul opted out of the meeting after Shah confirmed his presence, saying the Congress president had not confirmed his presence even for the scheduled state autonomy conference.

Through the presence of Shah, the most powerful in the BJP next only to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the national party might also be indicating that it had no role in Tamil Nadu government’s decision to refuse land on the Marina Beach for Karunanidhi’s burial, the political observers feel.

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