Chennai: Soon after taking over as DMK president, M K Stalin on Tuesday launched a scathing attack on the Narendra Modi government, accusing it of trying to ‘saffronise’ the country, adding that the latter should be taught a lesson.

“The Narendra Modi government is trying to paint the nation in the colour saffron (a symbol of Hindutva). Let’s teach it a lesson,” Stalin said in his maiden address to the General Council after his elevation.

Stalin’s no-holds barred attack puts an end to speculations that DMK and BJP were seemingly moving closer ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The DMK’s recent announcement that BJP chief Amit Shah will take part in a meeting to condole the death of its patriarch M Karunanidhi on August 30 here added fuel to the fire.

However, BJP yesterday said union minister Nitin Gadkari and national secretary Muralidhar Rao would represent the party in the meeting.

Earlier, the Centre declaring a national mourning as a mark of respect to Karunanidhi and according state funeral besides adjournment of both houses of Parliament were also seen a move by the BJP to keep the DMK in good humour.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Chennai to pay his last respects to the Dravidian stalwart and Stalin paying tributes to departed BJP leader A B Vajpayee in Delhi were considered as beyond mere political courtesies in the backdrop of BJP scouting for new allies ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Stalin alleged the Central government was attempting to destroy the basic tenets governing the spheres of “education, art, literature and religion.”

Accusing the Centre of going against the “ethos of secularism,” he said it also infringed the principles of democracy in matters related to judiciary, education and in appointment of Governors.

The DMK chief also targeted arch rival AIADMK, dubbing its government as “a spineless” dispensation which needed to be “thrown out” and vowed to oust it from power.

“We are anguished when we see the state government without the spine of self-respect and the Central government which infringes social justice, rationalism and equality,” he said mounting an attack on both the parties.

Stalin’s voice often choked with emotion, when he referred to Karunanidhi and said his only regret was that his father was not alive to see him assuming the top party post.

Claiming that he had a dream of a beautiful future for Tamil Nadu, he said it could be realised unitedly.

“Let’s realise this dream of a beautiful future together…Let’s march together,” he said, sending out the message of inclusivity as the party’s rank and file rallied behind him.

Stalin said he never dreamt of becoming the president of the DMK, which treated all as equal, irrespective of their position in the party.

He asked the party cadre to raise their voice against him if he committed a mistake.

“The realisation of the dream begins this very moment. I have the dream of a happy, beautiful new life for Tamil Nadu which I am committed to.Let the change begin from us. The Stalin that you see and hear today has been born anew,” he said.

While making it clear that the DMK will stick to its Dravidian and rationalist ideals, Stalin, however, said,”We will respect the beliefs of others even if we do not have faith (in those). We are not those who oppose God.”

Trying to emulate the signature style of his father in addressing the cadres, Stalin began his 25 minute address with the words “en uyirinum melana Kalaignarin anbu udanpirappugaley (my dear brothers of Kalaignar, you are above my life).

The only change was that he appened the word Kalaignar to the phrase used by Karunanidhi.

“I am not Kalaignar, I do not know to talk like him. But I have the courage to give a try to everything,” he said.

Invoking the name of Karunanidhi and his legacy throughout his speech, Stalin said though the patriarch has departed his ideals continued to guide the party.

When Stalin was named President, party workers burst crackers, and played music inside the sprawling lawns of party office.

A festive atmosphere was all pervasive with party workers teeming the party headquarters Anna Arivalayam where the general council meet took place.

A resolution was adopted seeking Bharat Ratna for Karunanidhi and another condoled the death of Vajpayee and victims of Kerala flood.

(With PTI inputs)