All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief Jayalalithaa, the Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Prakash Karat, Communist Party of India general secretary A B Bardhan, Pattali Makkal Katchi founder S Ramadoss and Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supremo Vaiko spoke at a rally in Chennai to launch their campaign.
Jayalalithaa alleged that the United Progressive Alliance government had failed to tackle the terrorism menace, and appealed to the people to use their "golden opportunity" to remove it and also the "inept" Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government in Tamil Nadu, which had failed on many fronts, including tackling the power shortage.
"Give me a chance and I assure you that I will pick the right prime minister who will deliver the goods to Tamil Nadu. The UPA government has not done any thing to the state," she said.
Karat slammed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his reported remarks against the regional parties, which Karat said, were responsible for the development of their respective states, had a definite say in the national polity and would provide an "alternative secular and stable government at the centre."
Karat said it was "very strange" on the part of Singh, who was "surviving" on the support of a dozen regional parties to have made these remarks. He said the Left parties, along with the regional parties like the AIADMK, were committed to providing a stable government at the Centre.
He said all the regional parties, barring the DMK, had "deserted the sinking ship of the Congress". Karat also raised the alleged spectrum scam and irregularities in the purchase of arms from an Israeli firm.
In a sarcastic comment, he said both the DMK and the Congress had "division of labour in selecting the scams".
CPI general secretary Bardhan came down heavily on the debate by the Congress and the BJP on "weak and strong prime minister". He said that was not the real issue before the people of the country as there were other concerns to be discussed. Both the UPA and the National Democratic Alliance were "disintegrating before our own eyes", he said.
Bardhan said the BJP and the Congress were trying to create a bi-party system in the country, undermining the significance of regional parties. "But they (the regional parties) play a big role in the development of the region," he added.