Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will hit the campaign trail on Saturday in Tamil Nadu where assembly elections are likely to be held in April-May, party state unit chief K S Azhagiri said on Wednesday. He also asserted the present Congress-DMK alliance would continue for the elections and said it would be a welcome development if actor-politician Kamal Haasan joined the combine.
Haasan, who last week completed his first round of campaign, has ruled out joining hands with ruling AIADMK or the DMK, which is going all out to come back to power in the state after being in opposition for ten years. "Rahul Gandhi will attend election meetings in Coimbatore and Tirupur districts on January 23. He has also agreed to visit Erode for a Congress public meeting," the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) President told reporters here.
This will be the second visit of the former Congress president to the state this month. Earlier, on January 14, he had witnessed a 'jallikattu', bull taming sport, event in Madurai in southern Tamil Nadu. Interestingly, Gandhi would launch the campaign from western Tamil Nadu, the home region of Chief Minister K Palaniswami, who hails from neighbouring Salem district.
Palaniswami, declared as the chief ministerial candidate by the AIADMK, has already launched his campaign. Arch-rival DMK chief M K Stalin has been addressing a series of "people's grama sabha" meetings across the state in the run-up to the elections.
Gandhi's detailed tour programme would be announced on Thursday, Azhagiri said during the interaction at the District Congress Committee office here. He said the existing alliance between Congress and DMK would continue. Though there may be differences in some policies of the alliance parties, everyone was committed to secularism, the TNCC chief added.
Replying to a question on Hassan, he said "everyone will be happy if he is willing to join the DMK-Congress alliance as he (the Makkal Needhi Maiam founder leader) has a secular outlook and is keen on opposing corruption". Azhagiri denied that the National Entrance-cum- Eligibility Test (NEET) for medical courses was conceived during the Congress-led UPA regime.
He claimed if the DMK-led alliance won the assembly polls, they would abolish NEET and also waive all crop and educational loans.