DMK chief MK Stalin, who had earlier backed Rahul Gandhi for opposition's prime ministerial candidate, today predicted the Congress chief will become the prime minister after the Lok Sabha elections and that the country will be safe in his hands.
Sharing stage with Rahul Gandhi at an election rally in Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu's Kanyakumari district, Mr Stalin said: "Within a few weeks, Rahul Gandhi will become the Prime Minister. In your (Rahul Gandhi's) hands the country will be safe we believe".
Mr Stalin had, at a function in Chennai in December to unveil M Karunanidhi's statue, suggested that Rahul Gandhi be the united opposition's prime ministerial candidate. The remark had rattled many, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has positioned herself at the forefront of the anti-BJP alliance, and Akhilesh Yadav, who stitched a partnership with Mayawati in UP looking straight through the Congress.
Mr Stalin had referred to the DMK's history with the Gandhi family to make his point. In 1980, he said, his father and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi's call to Indira Gandhi led to her victory.
"Power is going to come to you soon, it will be for the poor, it should be for the common man and we are fully confident, we are supporting you because you are Rahul Gandhi and not Narendra Modi," Mr Stalin said.
The Congress and DMK, which are allying in Tamil Nadu for the Lok Sabha elections, had announced their seat sharing deal last month. The Congress has been allotted nine of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu and the lone seat in Puducherry. Of the rest, DMK is expected to contest around 20 seats and the balance will go to the six smaller allies that include the MDMK, VCK, CPI and the CPM.
In the 2014 general elections, the AIADMK, under the leadership of J Jayalalithaa, had won 37 of the 39 seats. Of the other two, one went to the BJP and the other to its ally PMK. Both DMK and the Congress, who broke their alliance ahead of the elections, had drawn a blank.
In 2004, however, the DMK Congress combine won all the 39 seats in the state.