In its first Lok Sabha contest without party stalwarts M G Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa, the ruling AIADMK faltered winning only one seat despite its alliance partner BJP’s spectacular showing outside the state. The Opposition, led by the DMK, wrested all the 37 seats the AIADMK had won in the previous election.
So what next for the BJP-AIADMK alliance? And will the emergence of smaller outfits like TTV Dinakaran’s AMMK and Kamal Haasan’s MNM split the party vote share? Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D.Jayakumar answers them in an interview to Indianexpress.com.
Excerpts from the Interview:
How do you look at the Election results?
We thought we will win the elections comfortably with our mega alliance but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. We managed to win only one seat in the Lok Sabha Elections, but in assembly bypolls we secured 38 percentage of votes. DMK will be disappointed with the results though, they thought there will be a change in the center, they thought the AIADMK government will fail to gain the majority in the state, none of this happened. People of Tamil Nadu have never accepted DMK wholeheartedly; they have come to power in the past only because of their fortune.
In this election, DMK made false propaganda about Neutrino, Hydrocarbon, NEET, etc. They made people believe as if these schemes were bought by our government, but the truth is these schemes were signed during the regime of the Congress-DMK alliance. They made unreal promises; they said 6,000 rupees would be given to each household every month. It means they would be shedding out one and a half lakh crore rupees, is that even possible? People believed those false promises; it’s just a temporary victory for DMK.
Do you think the election result is an outcome of people’s dissatisfaction with the AIADMK government?
See, we have been implementing Amma’s welfare schemes. During Pongal, our government gave Rs 1,000 as a gift to every family with a ration card. This is a government for social justice. We fight for the rights of Tamil Nadu. We protested in the parliament for the Meghadadu project, we went to the Supreme Court and sorted the Cauvery water issue. What DMK did for the welfare of Tamil Nadu? How many factories were opened in Tamil Nadu during their period? Did they create any employment opportunity? They were responsible only for the genocide of Sri Lankan Tamils; they were just a puppet of the Congress government.
Do you think the emergence of smaller political outfits like TTV Dinakaran’s AMMK, Kamal Haasan’s MNM affected AIADMK’s vote share?
Close to 70 percent polling recorded in Tamil Nadu. People who vote for us haven’t changed their stand. The neutral votes could have gone in favour of those parties. Despite this, in the assembly bye-elections, we managed to secure 38 percentages of votes. Our vote share hasn’t been affected.
You have been closely associated with the Centre. Opposition allege that no big welfare scheme has been brought in favour of Tamil Nadu?
It’s not true. Funds have been allocated to Madurai, Coimbatore, and Chennai smart city plans. PM’s Blue Revolution Scheme has been implemented, the center has allocated Rs 2,000 crore for that project. Apart from this, the second phase of Metro Rail Projects is being initiated across the state. I can cite many examples like this, we are a constructive government, and we will be demanding the center to provide various schemes for the benefit of Tamil Nadu.
What’s your stand on NEET? Don’t the suicides of students show your government’s failure on this Issue?
NEET was introduced during the Congress-DMK regime, if they hadn’t introduced in the state, we wouldn’t be facing this much trouble now. The trouble started from there; multiple cases were filed in the Supreme Court. Finally, the court ordered all states to implement NEET. We are demanding them to exempt Tamil Nadu from NEET. When the court put a 50 per cent ceiling on all reservations, Amma passed a bill in the assembly to implement the 69 per cent reservation. President approved our reservation demand. Likewise, we will also keep fighting until our demands are accepted.
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy tweeted on June 5th recommending Tamil as an optional language in other states. As it drew a sharp response from Opposition parties and the public, he deleted that tweet. Is AIADMK endorsing a three-language formula?
This is a common misconception. Our leaders Anna, MGR, and Amma have always believed in the dual-language formula, we will never give that up. But what’s wrong in asking other states to include Tamil as an optional language? In our state, there are linguistic minorities. This is a democratic country, people can speak or learn whichever language they wish and we should respect that. For example, in other states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi, etc there is a sizeable number of Tamil population. Their children would like to learn Tamil in school. If we ask those states to include Tamil does it mean we endorse three-language formula?
Was AIADMK offered a place in PM Modi’s cabinet?
I cannot comment on that. I follow whatever the party decides. If they had decided not to be part of the cabinet, I respect that. If BJP wants us to be part of the cabinet, the party will decide upon that too. But they should call us first, we cannot go as an uninvited guest.
Is AIADMK currently in tie-up with BJP? Or has it changed post polls?
Our relationship with BJP remains the same. We all are friends. The local body elections are set to take place, and then the assembly elections will come. The coalition talks will keep happening during every election. We will decide the alliance during that time. As of now, we are in good terms with the BJP.