Drawing huge crowds, especially in AIADMK bastions, AMMK leader TTV Dhinakaran is the one person everyone is watching in Tamil Nadu. Having demonstrated his political might with his bypoll win from Jayalalithaa’s seat R K Nagar in 2017, he is seen as a potential spoiler by the AIADMK and, hence, a person of interest by the DMK. With candidates on 37 Lok Sabha seats and 22 crucial Assembly seats seeing bypolls in TN, Dhinakaran on his plans, regarding the Congress, BJP and the state AIADMK government. Read this interview in Tamil
After the Assembly bypolls to 22 seats, if the AIADMK requires the AMMK’s support to form the government, what will it do?
People tell me this is not Amma’s (the late Jayalalithaa’s) government. They gave me a huge victory in R K Nagar for the same reason. They want to topple this government and form Amma’s government…
Not a single anti-people scheme was allowed when Amma was alive. She didn’t allow NEET (an all-India medical entrance examination), methane or hydrocarbon (extraction projects funded by the Centre) were never allowed… She had a clear stand that she will not join hands with Narendra Modi’s BJP or communal parties like the PMK and even Vijayakanth’s DMDK. That is why she fought elections alone. But after her death, these leaders (of the AIADMK) joined hands with the enemies of Amma.
Would you prefer a fresh Assembly election, or a takeover of the AIADMK government?
If there are AIADMK MLAs who are not corrupt and want to join us, we will think about it (takeover of the government).
You seem to have problems with only the AIADMK top leadership…
(Laughs) Yes, about 12 of them… They have amassed huge wealth, this forced them to play into the hands of the BJP and betray Tamil people.
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DMK chief M K Stalin has rarely made a statement against you this time.
Stalin fears T T V and his party since the R K Nagar bypoll (in the election that Dhinakaran won with a huge margin, the DMK candidate lost his deposit)… Stalin knows why the DMK was defeated. We retained more than 75 per cent of Amma’s vote bank there and the same is going to be repeated in Tamil Nadu. We will win the most Assembly bypoll and Lok Sabha seats.
Is there any possibility of you joining hands with the BJP or Congress?
I have said this many times… I will never have an alliance with the BJP for their communal politics. But the Congress is a secular force. Only problem is they have not always protected the interests of Tamil Nadu. Rahul Gandhi is talking against NEET, but nothing about the livelihood problems faced by people due to the Cauvery issue and Mekedatu dam dispute.
That is why we decided to fight alone this time, to make Tamil Nadu stronger… Unlike the DMK, we will never strike an alliance with national parties and lobby for posts at the Centre.
Do you still consult your aunt V K Sasikala before taking any important decisions?
I can meet her only once in 15 days (Sasikala is imprisoned in a disproportionate assets case). She is not active, she has given me complete authority to take decisions. However, I discuss important things with her.
While your own OBC Thevar community is known for violence against Dalits, you seem to be making efforts to engage with Dalits.
In a normal village scenario, people from all communities want to live peacefully. They are struggling to survive. But some forces want to take advantage of caste… Except for the fact that I was born a Thevar, I function as a leader for everyone. When I was an MP (from Periyakulam in 1999), I tried to introduce changes among our people. And if you see me as a Thevar leader, only four MLAs (out of 22 of the AIADMK) who supported me are from my community… Projecting me as a Thevar leader is a rival propaganda…
People know that I will not make false promises like Modi, offering Rs 15 lakh in bank accounts.
You have travelled far from your origins in an ordinary family in a small town.
One can make allegations about anyone. Cases against me were filed before I entered politics, for political reasons. There have been no corruption charges against me since I became MP or MLA… People also know that nobody is perfect because their leaders come from the same society they live in… They throng to see me because they feel that they have found a leader for whom they had been waiting for long.
Otherwise, look at Modi, who was elected to power with so much hope. He himself destroyed all that with his big lies. People… want a selfless leader who understands their problems, runs the state, lets them live, serves them and implements policies without corruption.
Do you think money can buy votes?
It is a fact that you cannot buy votes and win elections… I have given strict orders to my workers to not make any such attempts.