Millennium Post

‘I clearly visualise the regional parties holding the fort’

How has your experience been in the AIADMK till now and how has it been working with Jayalalithaa?

I was in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for 10 years from 1991 to 1999. AIADMK and NDA alliance broke in April 1999. I left the BJP, which was the ruling party of the country at that time and joined the AIADMK. From 1999 I have been with the AIADMK. My party supremo J Jayalalithaa (we call her puruechi thalai or revolutionary leader) is a very articulate, dynamic, bold and a decisive leader. Definitely people who stand by her and are loyal to her have felt that she too has always stood by them and supported them. I am a standing example of that. When I left BJP in 1999 and joined her, I was immediately given a party executive position. I was made the president of the medical wing of the party. From 1999 to 2001 when we were in opposition, we had conducted more than 150 medical camps across Tamil Nadu. In 2001, she made me contest the assembly elections we had a mega result and the party nearly swept the polls. In fact, the AIADMK contested 141 seats and we won 133, but eight unfortunate members lost theirs and I was one of them. I lost in May 2001. But subsequently, GK Moopanar died in August 2001, following which Rajya Sabha by-election vacancy was notified in December 2001. She nominated me to that position. From January 2002 to June 2004, she made me a Rajya Sabha MP from AIADMK. Then from August 2004 till may 2006 , till our government stepped down in Tamil Nadu, she made me special representative to the state government, which is equivalent to the rank of a cabinet minister. From 2007 she made me a Rajya Sabha MP for a full six-year term. As I complete my Rajya Sabha term two months from now, I am a very content and satisfied person. During my tenure in the AIADMK, from 1999 till now, I never thought   any other leader from any other political party would have given me so much space.

From Tamil Nadu’s point of view, what are the major demands of your party before the Centre?

My leader has always been a fighter. She fights from the front and does not leave it to her lieutenants. She fights to the finish till she achieves what she wants. There are many standing examples which exemplify this, like the Cauvery issue. She has been fighting a lone battle virtually.  In fact, many political parties in Tamil Nadu have been advocating a via media approach to talk to their counterparts and have a compromise formula. But she has been the one who has been persistent with her fight and has met the prime minister a number of times, even though we did not receive a favourable reply from the government. We always relied on Supreme Court, but before that we had also approached the Cauvery river authority. Virtually, for five years when DMK was in power, they did not do anything. But we knocked at the doors of Supreme Court and got the thing done in our favour. Whether it is the Cauvery issue, the Mullaperiyar  dam issue or the  retrieval of Kachativu, she has always been a fighter. Regarding the various problems faced by the state vis-a-vis the economic packages, we have been fighting a hard battle, especially the power sector. Thanks to the non-initiative of the previous DMK government, TN has been in a big power crisis. We have been asking the Centre to give a helping hand in this power crisis but the Centre has not done anything. So whether it is the power, financial or water sector we have been fighting till the end.

The UPA government has been embroiled in a number of scams for which the opposition is demanding the resignation of cabinet ministers as well as the PM. What is your party’s stand on it?

In the mega 2G spectrum scam, it was the AIADMK which spearheaded the campaign even when we did not a single MP support in the Lok Sabha. Jayalalithaa sent me to Rajya Sabha in 2007. Between 2008 and 2009 I was virtually the lone voice raising this issue. There were frequent disruptions and subsequently even the other opposition parties took up the issue. AIADMK and our party leaders have been taking up this issue right from the beginning and we have been very successful in having the accused nailed. Subsequently, even for other scams, we have been raising our voice in the parliament and also on  other public platforms.

If elections were to be held now would the AIADMK fight alone or would they ally with the UPA or NDA?

No, Jayalalithaa has made our party’s position very clear during executive meetings and other such forums that be it the Congress or BJP, they will never do justice to Tamil Nadu. She had said this during the Cauvery issue. For them they have no major stakes in Tamil Nadu in terms of electoral politics whereas they do have stakes in Karnataka. So they will never do justice to Tamil Nadu.
The AIADMK will not align with either the Congress or the BJP in the run-up to the next Lok Sabha elections. We will fight on our own.

You have supported P Sangma for the presidential elections last year, but the results did not indicate a very satisfactory response. How was that experience for your party?

Jayalalithaa has always taken a principled stand on various issues. When she chose to recommend the name of Sangma for the presidential candidacy it was because he was a tribal leader. If he had been elected then it would have sent a significant message to the country. Other parties supporting or not is a separate issue altogether. The choice was based entirely on principles.

Do you foresee an interim Lok Sabha election happening in the country?

The way things are going about today, the government is virtually on a day-to-day lease. The government comes out from one crisis to another, so you never know when it will fall. My personal feeling is that with coalgate, railgate and other scams, it will be virtually very difficult for this government to survive. Partially for this entire session the parliament was paralysed. The government has been unable to transact any business. It is just a lame-duck government in which bureaucracy is not listening to them. In fact this government is just surviving on the basis of arithmetic. The UPA has lost its orginality. It is no longer the original UPA. It is now essentially a Uttar Pradesh Alliance, the parties from UP – Mulyalyam and Mayawati – are virtually seeing that this government survives. I wont be surprised if by the end of this year states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and New Delhi go for the Lok Sabha elections.

What is AIADMK’s assessment of the next government – will it be UPA, NDA or a third front?

It’s too early to comment but one thing is for sure that the Congress will not head the next government. The way the party has been performing, people definitely would not want them back. The question on who will lead is something we will have to see. I do not see a wave in favour of the NDA. If the Congress has to go, the NDA may not be in a position to form the government then obviously I visualise the regional parties to hold the fort. But as far as AIADMK is concerned our target is 40 seats in Tamil Nadu, which we will like to get amass and proceed accordingly.

Who do you think is the most suitable prime ministerial candidate so far?

I will be very happy to see puruechi thalai (J Jayalalithaa) as the next prime-ministerial candidate. What India needs today is a strong, bold, articulate, decisive leader and she definitely fits in the bill.

Every regional party’s head (Mulayam, Mayawati and others) aspire to be the PM. What are your comments on the same?

Everyone has the right to aspire but the main question is, who will fit in the bill! As I said the country needs a strong leader and Jayalalithaa fits in the post perfectly.
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