Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today launched his party's campaign trail for Tamil Nadu assembly elections by trying to establish an emotional connect with the voters over the state's culture and language, which he alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi "does not respect".
"We believe there are multiple cultures and languages. We believe all languages including Tamil, Hindi and Bengali have a space," said Mr Gandhi said in Coimbatore, his first stop in his three-day visit to the southern state.
"PM Modi has no respect for culture, language and people of Tamil Nadu. PM thinks Tamil people and language are subservient to his ideas, his culture," he added.
The former Congress president also hit out at the prime minister over the farmers' protest, alleging that his government was ignoring the plight of farmers to protect the interests of big industrialists.
"What belongs to farmers is being taken away. That's why we stand with farmers. PM Modi partners with big businessmen in India who provide him media," he said.
"Tamil Nadu requires a new government. That is why we want to work with you to get a government that you would be proud of," he said.
According to the itinerary released by the party, Mr Gandhi will do roadshows, interact with MSMEs, industrial workers, farmers and weavers in western districts of Coimbatore and Tirupur districts over the next few days.
According to Congress, Rahul Gandhi would campaign in the southern state for three days in the western region covering five districts including Tiruppur, Erode, Karur districts as he garners support for his party and the DMK led alliance for the assembly elections due in May.
Interestingly, these are the districts that are considered stronghold of the ruling AIADMK.
This is the first state election after state's two icons Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi passed away. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the DMK- Congress alliance won 38 of the 39 seats.
In 2016, the Congress was blamed for the inability of the DMK alliance to capture power as the party won just eight of the 41 seats it contested in. This time, however, sources say the Congress is willing to contest in fewer seats to help the alliance win the polls.