Congress working president and AICC secretary K Jayakumar hinted at the possible arrival of the PMK to the DMK fold.He suggested that it is up to VCK leader to decide on continuing in the secular front, in a fireside chat with DT Next.
It is not a new arrangement. When Sitaram Kesari was the AICC president we had tried it at the national level. After TMC’s merger, we had S Balakrishnan heading the party and EVKS Elangovan as working president. After Rahul Gandhi took over, he wanted to adopt the formula and involve more than one person in decision making. This has been successfully adopted in MP and Chhattisgarh. TNCC chief will consult us and carry out the consensus decision.
The way it was done, replacement of Thirunavukkarasar overnight, a week after he had claimed that he would continue till the Parliamentary elections, led to suspicion. Was he sacked at the insistence of other Congress leaders?
The change was not sudden. It was there for almost a year. You can say the decision was a bit delayed.
Are you suggesting that the replacement was long overdue? Did AICC appoint him campaign committee chair to pacify him?
He has been appointed campaign committee chairman. He is one of senior leaders of the party who has been heading the party for so long. If he has not been given any assignment, you can say he was sidelined. AICC has given him an equally responsible job where the TNCC chief comes under him.
Was the organisational shake up influenced by Thirunavukkarasar’s friendship with TTV Dhinakaran or discomfort in the DMK camp?
I really don’t know what kind of friendship he has with others. He is a man from the AIADMK and the BJP. He is a man who has the capacity to run his own party. He has friends everywhere. His meeting or interaction with erstwhile colleagues should not be viewed differently. If that is the case, he would not have been appointed TNCC president earlier. Change has something to do with the ensuing elections and not the alliance.
KS Alagiri has made an appeal to Kamal to join the alliance after the latter had called DMK corrupt?
It was not a call for Kamal to join our alliance. Kamal said Congress should not join the DMK. Who’s he to advise parties to join an alliance or quit. If he’s interested he should join or else he should refrain from us.
Did it not anger the DMK? Your chief invites him after he brands DMK corrupt…
It was a sarcastic appeal. Alagiri had only asked him not to advice Congress on choosing alliances.
There is criticism that Kamal is doing it only after the DMK declined his request to join alliance?
I am not aware of it.
It is rumoured that he’s indirectly helping the BJP?
Not necessarily. But, it is not fair on his part to do so. He should not take an advisory role. Every party has the liberty and own thinking to choose its partners.
Some say he is helping BJP….
His stand will definitely help the BJP. He should not do that. To publicly do this is not ethical politics. He is a man who has secular credentials.
The DMK has been harsh in its response. Congress has been relatively soft on Kamal?
I don’t want to use harsh words. He is not in a recommendatory position to say this. I don’t think he has that much knowledge in politics either. I don’t suspect his secular credentials.
There is some uncertainty on the composition of your alliance…
Thirumavalavan had organised a huge rally calling it the beginning of our campaign, of the secular front. So did Vaiko. In our understanding, they are with us. Everything is in place. TNCC chief has gone to Delhi to apprise the leadership. All committees have been constituted. Once he returns, meetings will take place.
DMK treasurer Duraimurugan said some new parties could join the alliance and a few could leave?
I don’t know about leaving. But I am sure some parties are joining. Negotiations are on. I was told that even the PMK might join. Chances are there. If any other secular party comes and joins us, they are welcome.
VCK chief says he would not be a part of an alliance with the PMK?
It is his party’s decision. He is president of the party. He has liberty to take a decision on any lines he likes.
Will you not lose one party for accommodating another?
This is a multi-party secular front. Our single aim is to defeat fascist and casteist forces. Whoever joins the BJP camp, even if they are our friends, they will be our enemies on the election front. Our aim is not just getting the numbers and winning the elections, our aim is defeating the fascist forces. So, we will be flexible.
Are you suggesting that you will be flexible in sharing seats?
We are not concerned about numbers. One seat may go up or down when a party joins us. Our main concern is to take all together and defeat the forces destroying the integrity of the country.
You were rigid in the past…..
Both parties have to be very flexible this time. The DMK has to accommodate other parties. When we have decided to fight the enemy ideologically, these simple issues should not matter. We will be the prominent alliance opposing Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We will win not less than 37 seats.
Having said that will you accommodate GK Vasan too? Will Congress agree to that in principle?
I don’t know what Vasan has in his mind. He has to decide. I can’t comment if he would be a part of the alliance or not.
The DMK and the Congress have differences on some sensitive issue like slapping of NSA by Congress regime on cow slaughterers in MP and 10% reservation for economically weaker other castes?
I am not aware of the developments in MP. Between TNCC and DMK there are no major differences. We are working comfortably.
PM candidate is another issue causing unease. Stalin proposed Rahul for PM here, but was silent in Kolkata?
He (Stalin) has made the stand of the DMK, which was projecting Rahul for PM, very clear.
How will the Left parties campaign for Rahul? Is it obligatory for them to support him here?
In TN, they have to. When the alliance leader (DMK) takes a stand, they have to follow.