MK Stalin stepped into his father M Karunanidhi's shoes today, formally taking over as the chief of the DMK, with a call to arms for his partymen. "My dream is to oppose who give a religious colour to everything... We will teach a lesson to the Narendra Modi government," said the new party chief.
The 65-year-old, who has been handling the party for more than a year, also set a closer target. "Let's throw away the corrupt government in Tamil Nadu," said the leader, who took charge three weeks after his father's death.
The ceremony took place at the DMK headquarters, where black-and-red party flags and drumbeats brought a festive air for the first time since Mr Karunanidhi's health took a turn for the worse more than a month ago. After the meeting, Mr Stalin visited his father's memorial on Chennai's Marina Beach to seek his blessings.
Looking back at the 49 years of Karunanidhi's leadership, Mr Stalin said, "I never dreamt that I would lead the party. It is a huge responsibility... I don't say I would lead. Let's do it together. Let's question all including ourselves if we go wrong".
The DMK -- which took turns with arch-rival J Jayalalithaa's AIADMK to hold power in the state for decades -- has now set its sight on national politics. Over the last months, Mr Stalin has been a vocal part of the opposition that's trying to cobble together a front to take on the BJP in the national elections next year.
"Today's political situation has come as a grave challenge. Education, art, literature, religion are under attack by authoritative and communal forces. The Union government is trying to destabilise judiciary, selection of governors. All this has dealt a blow to the secular principles," Mr Stalin said. Under the BJP, even the rights of state governments were being trampled upon, he added.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and other opposition leaders including Mamata Banerjee congratulated Mr Stalin on his elevation. "Congratulations to Shri M K Stalin on being elected President of the DMK. I wish him happiness & success as he begins a new chapter in his political journey," Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
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