Karunanidhi a tall leader whose life straddled two centuries: Sonia

Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Besides Gandhi who was in Telengana on Friday, the foundation day of the new state, other non-BJP heavyweights who are likely to be there in Chennai include NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Pudducherry CM Narayan Sami, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, National Conference's Farooq Abdullah, TMC leader Derek O'Brian, and others on the invitation of Karunanidhi's son and DMK leader K M Stalin. The timing of the event is important as DMK's archrival AIADMK is in a flux after the death of J Jayalalithaa.

The opposition leaders were in Chennai to participate in the public meeting to celebrate Karunanidhi's 94th birthday and also his diamond jubilee year in the Tamil Nadu assembly. "We are not going to stand and watch while they peddle their ridiculous ideas", he said.

The Congress leader said that while the entire world is saying the decline in Indian economy is due to demonetisation, finance minister Arun Jaitley is of different opinion.

Both leaders accepted the invitation on behalf of DMK's working president M.K. Stalin.

Sonia said she was aware that Karunanidhi had not been keeping good health in the last few months. "First they (BJP) want Congress-free India and now they want an Opposition-free India", he said.

Criticising the Modi government, Stalin said the ruling party is trying to saffronise the whole nation and the major challenge before the people is to protect democracy. Bihar chief minister and senior leader of Janata Dal (United) Nitish Kumar visited the five-time Chief Minister at his house.

Chennai was earlier witness to forming of the National Front, but that was against the then ruling Congress govt. "Tamil language and culture, which Karunanidhi and other leaders emphasised upon, will never face a threat under him", he said. "The (BJP's) policies have resulted in GDP falling drastically", he said.

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