In Tamil Nadu’s game of political chairs, the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) took everyone by surprise when it announced its decision to ally with the AIADMK for the Lok Sabha polls and by-elections in the state. In the run-up to the elections, the PMK was the most sought after ally for all national parties. In a closely contested poll with a vote share of 6 per cent, the PMK hopes to be the kingmaker.
India Today TV caught up with MP and PMK Youth Wing leader Anbumani Ramadoss in Medavakkam while he was canvassing for Dr Jayavardhan, the AIADMK candidate for the South Chennai Loksabha seat.
QUESTION 1: How do you see prospects of the mega alliance formed by the AIADMK-led NDA in face of the anti-incumbency factor?
A: The anti-incumbency factor has been created by the media. People of Tamil Nadu have responded positively to this alliance. Its an alliance of likeminded parties. Our alliance partners — AIADMK, DMDK, BJP, NR Congress, New Justice party have a solid vote bank. But the same thing cannot be said of the alliance partners of the DMK. The people have not forgotten the atrocities and rowdyism of DMK and they will vote in an overwhelming support to the AIADMK alliance. We are confident of a massive victory.
QUESTION 2: The opposition led by DMK has termed your alliance unholy and selfish.
A: DMK President MK Stalin is frustrated. He is resorting to personal attacks on me and my leader S Ramadoss. He is projecting as if the election is between PMK and DMK. We are happy because we are the tilting factor. He expected us to be in his alliance and we refused. His anger is reflected in his statement. Ours is an alliance to strengthen the hand of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a second term. The Communist Party has opposed Congress president Rahul Gandhi contesting in Wayanad but in Tamil Nadu, they are part of an alliance with the DMK and Congress. They are the ones in an alliance riddled with contradictions.
QUESTION 3: How do you defend criticisms over your alliance with the AIADMK? In the past, PMK vowed not to align with the Dravidian parties.
A: Yes, we had taken a stand eight years ago that we will not have an alliance with the DMK or AIADMK. However, the decision to align with AIADMK is a strategy adopted to get back the rights of Tamil Nadu people. We have allied with AIADMK based on 10 preconditions like protecting Cauvery Delta region, the abolition of NEET and waiver of agricultural loans. The state government has promised they would address these issues. We were fighting these issues from outside now we are fighting it from inside. It’s easier.
QUESTION 4: If the alliance is elected to power and the conditions are not met, will the PMK rethink on it support to the alliance?
A: Yes definitely. We have not compromised on our policies. We stand by issues that we strongly feel about like the hydrocarbon project, Salem Expressway and prohibition.
QUESTION 5: Will the #GobackModi campaign hurt the prospects of the alliance?
A: #Gobackmodi took place in 2018. This year, it’s not visible. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has frequently visited the state and there were no large scale protests. There were issues against BJP but that has changed this year.
QUESTION 6: How will the entry of TTV Dhinakaran and actor Kamal Hassan change the electoral scene in Tamil Nadu?
A: TTV Dhinakaran and Kamal Hassan do not have a winning chance in even one constituency. Their entry will not affect our prospects in the polls. This is a national election. People will want to vote for a PM candidate. We have our Prime Minister Narendra Modi but the DMK alliance does not have a PM candidate. TTV Dhinakaran and Kamal Hassan don’t even know with whom they are going to go with. So people are not going to waste their vote.
QUESTION 7: What will be your focus area in Dharmapuri?
A: I am happy to seek a second term from Dharmapuri. The main issues that plague the constituency are drinking water, employment and agriculture. I will work towards removing the backward tag that denotes this constituency.