M K Stalin, younger son of DMK president M Karunanidhi, has clearly left his stamp on recent party decisions, such as discussions with allies, selection of candidates and reportedly snuffing of a backroom effort to align with the Congress. Excerpts from an e-mail interview to The Indian Express:
M Karunanidhi had praised Narendra Modi as a hard worker and a good friend. What is your opinion? Will the 2002 riots be an issue this election?
He believes in addressing even his rivals in a civilised manner, and replied to a question on Modi’s political experience in that vein. In this election, just as the BJP will campaign on his positives, his rivals will focus on the negatives.
Opinion polls give the NDA an edge. What is your view?
Is this the first time opinion polls are favouring the NDA? The media had predicted victory for the BJP-led front based on such polls in 2004 and 2009, too. But the people decided otherwise. Beyond national issues, the situation in each state will be reflected in this general election.
Are you open to providing support to the NDA post-poll?
We want a union government that is secular, that respects the interests of the states. So there is no space for speculation.
What is you opinion about Rahul Gandhi as PM candidate?
But he has not yet been officially announced as the candidate. He has been given charge to lead in the election, and I extend him my greetings.
Is your opposition to an alliance with the Congress a unanimous party opinion? Do you rule out a post-poll alliance too?
The general council of the party was unanimous about not having an alliance with Congress. The election results will be in favour of the party. After that, a government in favour of the state’s interests will be formed at the Centre.
How do you see the prospects of the third front?
In many elections when there were speculations and unexpected twists, like in 1989, 1996, 1999, 2004, Karunanidhi was instrumental in forming good governments. When the result of this election comes out, he will be in a position to decide who will rule India.
Would you invite the Left parties to the DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance?
Our president has already said they would be welcomed if they come.
What do you think of the Centre’s efforts to address the problems of Sri Lankan Tamils?
At the time of the final war in Eelam, Karunanidhi, then CM, took several efforts to stop the conflict. Following that, the DMK and the Tamil Eelam Supporters’ Organisation that it leads urged India to bring it to the attention of the international community… these steps were not taken.
The DMK was part of the ruling coalition at the Centre in 2009, which rivals are raising to question the party’s sincerity on the Lankan Tamil issue.
The DMK sacrificed its governments twice on Eelam issue. That is why we are still working on the issue at a time when those who politically exploited the issue are keeping quiet.
What is you opinion on the state government’s decision to release the seven convicted in Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination?
It was the DMK government that commuted the death sentence of S Nalini. So we welcome the Supreme Court decision commuting the death sentences of the rest. Instead of working for their release by following legal procedures, Jayalalithaa wanted to make it an electoral stunt.
Jayalalithaa has used this issue to criticise the DMK.
Jayalalithaa should read what she herself had said when the then DMK government reduced Nalini’s death penalty to life [in 2000], and what her police told the court recently while opposing Nalini’s parole plea. The people will see through her duplicity.
Will the spectrum sale scam allegations be an issue this election?
With nothing to blame on the DMK, some might be calculating to win votes by raising the illusion called 2G. When the CBI itself does not agree to the loss figure cited by the CAG, how will the public accept this false charge?
Some potential allies are hesitating to align because of this allegation.
The parties aligned with us have a strong vote bank. It has its focus on the goal, and will not fragment. What can I say about individual likes and dislikes of other parties?
The AIADMK has been projecting Jayalalithaa as a potential prime ministerial candidate. What is your opinion?
The people are not fools to believe that Jayalalithaa, the queen of adjournments and facing cases, including on disproportionate assets, an income tax fraud and gifts, is qualified to be the prime minister. The way she has dealt with alliance partners, the way she is dealing with the communist parties now, has given her an image of being untrustworthy.
Opinion polls are predicting the AIADMK would win 20-30 seats.
Opinions are coloured by likes and dislikes; the only thing that is definite is the result… The DMK-led DPA will win all 40 seats in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.