The raids by Income Tax officials have given the DMK “good publicity” ahead of next week’s election, Udhayanidhi Stalin – son of party boss MK Stalin – told NDTV, a day after contentious searches at properties belonging to Mr Stalin’s daughter and son-in-law and other party leaders.
The raids – which sources today said turned up nothing but Rs 1.36 in cash that was returned after it was properly accounted for – came after Udhayanidhi Stalin questioned what he called the “exponential rise in wealth” of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s son, Jay Shah.
The younger Stalin has targeted Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the past 48 hours – a response to the Prime Minister calling him a “crown prince” during a rally in Dharapuram.
“PM Modi and Amit Shah target me. That is why I target them,” Udhayanidhi, who is making his electoral debut in the April 6 Assembly election, said.
To the Prime Minister’s criticism of dynastic politics in the DMK, he said: “Let the people of Chepauk-Thiruvallikenni (the seat he is contesting) decide… We will win with a thumping majority.”
On the raids he said: “IT raids have given DMK free publicity. Raids have not shaken up the party.”
On Friday Udhayanidhi took on Amit Shah over the “exponential rise” in his son Jay Shah’s wealth; he alleged that this had increased from Rs 15,000 to Rs 120 crore.
Out of power for 10 years, the DMK is trying hard to unseat the ruling AIADMK, which has renewed ties with the BJP. That alliance yielded a rout in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls – they won just one of 39 seats – and the DMK will hope for a similar clean sweep this year.
The party has slammed the raids, which come days before voting begins, as politically motivated.
A furious MK Stalin said the people would “give a clear verdict on April 6 for this miscalculation”.
“BJP abuses power as usual amid looming defeat with no public support. We are not AIADMK to prostrate ourselves before your (the BJP’s) feet as slaves. We have no fear… we will stand with courage. The people will give a clear verdict on April 6…” he said on Friday.
Udhayanidhi Stalin – an actor/producer who also heads the DMK’s youth wing – is not only making his electoral debut this year, but has also been listed as a ‘star campaigner’.
In 2019 he campaigned across the state during the Lok Sabha polls and was rewarded with the Youth Wing Secretary post earlier held by his father.
Sources said his enrolment drives brought around 24 lakh new members to the party and, in a bid to strengthen ranks, he has expanded office-bearers from 4,500 to around 3.5 lakh.
The party feels he could reach out to young voters and has elevated him over several senior leaders – a fact that has also given the AIADMK ammunition with which to attack.
Undaunted, though, and with just a day left before campaigning must end, Udhayanidhi is busy walking, or hopping aboard an autorickshaw, to travel the narrow lanes of his constituency – a party stronghold – and meet people.
Large groups of adoring supporters dot these lanes, welcoming him with showers of rose petals and the traditional ‘aarti’, while others break coconuts.
A few weeks ago, as he began his campaign, Udhayanidhi was seen holding a spear (vel) – a weapon of Lord Muruga. With the BJP known for Hindutva politics and attempting to expand its footprint in the state, these are signs the DMK is trying to present itself as a more inclusive alternate.
Tamil Nadu votes in a single phase on Tuesday with votes to be counted on May 2.