(TAMIL NADU, LANKAPUVATH) –Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday set off ripples in Tamil Nadu political circles by calling on ailing DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi at his Gopalapuram residence. Mr Modi, who was in Chennai to attend the platinum jubilee celebrations of the Tamil newspaper Dina Thanthi, departed from his scheduled itinerary to visit the nonagenarian leader, who is recovering from age-related illness.
Though both DMK and BJP second line leaders described the visit as a courtesy call, Mr. Modi’s decision to include it in his agenda at the eleventh hour clearly indicated a subtle “political message” that he did not consider the Dravidian party a political untouchable.
DMK sources told The Hindu that the Prime Minister’s Office had fixed the appointment on Sunday evening by contacting Mr. Karunanidhi’s son and DMK working president M.K. Stalin, who was in Sharjah to take part in the international annual book fair. Mr. Stalin has been highly critical of the BJP and has recently sought to bring together non-NDA parties on a national platform.
Mr. Stalin, who returned to Chennai early on Monday morning, was present to greet Mr. Modi outside his father’s house. The two shared pleasantries and smiles before Mr Stalin escorted Mr. Modi inside.
BJP state president Tamilisai Soundararajan was up-beat about the visit and called the meeting an alliance of affection.“There was no political message in the way Mr. Modi conducted himself. We also stayed away from discussing politics,” said Mr. Duraimurugan.
Meanwhile, the DMK in a statement said it was going ahead with observing November 8 as a black day to highlight the “adverse impact” of demonetisation throughout the State except in the eight rain-affected districts.
TNCC president Su. Thirunavukkarasar felt that there was no political importance to Mr Modi meeting Mr. Karunanidhi. “Mr Modi should have decided to call on Mr Karunanidhi since he failed to visit former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa when she was in hospital. He might have done it to earn the goodwill of the people of Tamil Nadu,” the Congress leader added.
“It is a great political gesture that established the cordial relationship between the two leaders. It will the pave way for a healthy political culture because the Prime Minister went to the extent of requesting Mr. Karunanidhi to take rest at his residence in Delhi,” she said.
DMK principal secretary Duraimurugan and party MP Kanimozhi, who were present during the meeting, however refused to attach any political significance, saying it was only a courtesy call.