With Lok Sabha elections just a few months away, the Congress party surprised everyone in early February by appointing K S Alagiri as its Tamil Nadu state chief along with four working presidents. Alagiri, a Lok Sabha MP from Cuddalore district, replaced Thirunavukkarasar. Alagiri has been member of Tamil Nadu Assembly twice in 1991 and 1996, the second time winning from G K Moopanar’s Tamil Maanila Congress.
In an interview with indianexpress.com, Alagiri opens up on his new role as party president, his equation with DMK chief M.K. Stalin, his views on BJP-AIADMK alliance, and on other issues. Excerpts from the Interview.
As Tamil Nadu Congress chief, how do you plan to take this party forward?
I feel proud to be elected as Tamil Nadu Congress president. My sole aim is to convert all our support into votes. Two main problems in Tamil Nadu have been unemployment and a government which functions against secularism. We will try to eradicate both. People need a government which will be against religious politics, a government which will take adequate steps to uproot separatists and extremists who cause disharmony in the country. Congress will do justice to people’s wishes.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Congress contested alone. Ahead of 2019 polls, you have joined hands with the DMK again. What’s changed your stand?
All secular parties decided to join together to save the nation. Our country is losing sovereignty under the BJP government. Due to caste and religion, people are getting suppressed and even killed. To oppose these anarchist methods, we have joined forces to dethrone BJP from power.
Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) deputy general secretary Vanni Arasu recently shared a post on Facebook suggesting they are upset about the DMK-led front. Is VCK still part of your plans? Will Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) also join?
Only Vanni Arasu can explain why he did that. We are together on policy and not on individual Interest. The party leadership will take a call on the alliance, right now I’m not sure whether PMK will join us.
I neither supported him nor was against him. He is a leftist and portrays himself as a person against religious practices. I welcomed him to join our alliance as a good political gesture. I was unaware of his statement on DMK. Later, when I came to know, I was shocked. He shouldn’t have said those things at this stage. He was quiet for all these months and suddenly with the elections just around the corner, he has changed his stand.
Thambidurai has been a vocal critic of the BJP, but his party members have been evasive. They say whatever Thambidurai said on BJP is his independent statement and it’s not the AIADMK’s view. Where does the BJP-AIADMK alliance stand?
The BJP-AIADMK alliance is a weak, fragile combination. They don’t have people’s support. He (Thambidurai) is a senior AIADMK leader and he has been criticising BJP for quite some time. He asked why AIADMK should help BJP grow in Tamil Nadu. Before even charting out the basic plan to face the elections, they have a difference of opinion within their party. Look at us, we don’t have any problem. Our relationship with our allies has been smooth. That’s the way an alliance should function.
Akhilesh Yadav has been cordial with us, Mulayam Singh is not cordial with Akhilesh and that’s the reason behind this statement. Akhilesh is supporting Congress, so his father decided to praise the opposition party. It’s because of the friction between father and son. They have to sort out their differences.
What’s your view on DMK leader M K Stalin’s leadership? How do you compare him to late DMK patriarch Karunanidhi?
M K Stalin is doing a fabulous job as a leader. He is leading this mega alliance without any friction. He has a great vision not only for Tamil Nadu but for India too. He proposed Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Ministerial candidate by himself which shows how much he respects our leader. He is just like his father; he has a good knowledge of Indian politics and has great charisma.