CHENNAI: Ousted AIADMK leader and former minister Anwar Raja in an interview to Shanmugha Sundaram J said Governor RN Ravi is acting against the Constitution and called Chief Minister MK Stalin’s response appropriate to uphold the dignity of the Tamils. He said none of the present crop of AIADMK leaders have a state-level appeal and emphasised the importance of an unified AIADMK to take forward the party. He is of the strong view that the AIADMK should strictly follow former CM J Jayalalithaa’s assurance that they would never strike an alliance with the BJP to win back the trust of the minorities.
How do you see the January 9 Assembly session and the controversy surrounding it?
No Governor has acted in an undemocratic manner like RN Ravi. It is unconstitutional to deviate from the drafted speech of the people-elected government. During the AIADMK regime under J Jayalalithaa (1991-1996), then Governor Chenna Reddy refused to say “My Government” and conveyed that he would read “This government” instead. But, it was approved by the AIADMK government. Since then, no Governor has acted like Ravi. He also walked out of the Assembly before the National Anthem was sung. It was unprecedented. If the CM remained idle, it would have shown his government in a poor light and he would have earned the wrath of people. But he acted appropriately to uphold the dignity of his government (to get the Governor’s deviated speech expunged). It helped him gain political mileage and overcome the criticism of his government on many fronts. He also earned the respect of the Tamils living across the globe.
Though several political parties skipped the Pongal festival hosted by the Governor recently, AIADMK leaders Edappadi K Palaniswami, O Panneerselvam and party MLAs participated in the Pongal celebration, drawing strong criticismj. Your opinion?
Protesting the Governor’s act and participating in the programmes are two different things. We firmly believe in the ideology of Anna (CN Annadurai), who drew parallel to the Governor’s post and the beard of a goat and called them redundant. But, he is the head of the government as per the Constitution. Hence, we have to accept it.
As a political party, its spokesperson D Jayakumar condemned the Governor for his remarks. Meanwhile, the leaders (EPS and OPS) are prisoners of circumstances that warranted them to attend the Raj Bhavan programme.
BJP leaders are proclaiming that they are the prime opposition party in TN. Is it so?
The party has grown based on pure publicity. There is a popular song by Kannadasan (Vilambarathal vuyarnthavan vazhkai nerantharam illai) about the life of a person whose growth due to publicity is not permanent. It applies to the BJP, as their strategy will not work out in Tamil Nadu. Its real strength will be ascertained when they approach the people (during the polls).
Is single leadership possible in the AIADMK?
At present, there is no undisputed leader, who can win the trust of all sections of the people in the state. Now, the party has only regional level leaders like EPS for Salem region, SP Velumani for Coimbatore, P Thangamani for Namakkal, KA Sengottaiyan for Erode and OPS for southern region. Hence, collective leadership is the way forward for the party.
Moreover, EPS’s selfishness is serving as a stumbling block for the merger of the factions for a larger good of the party.
Can you explain the factors leading to continuous debacle of the AIADMK in polls since former CM Jayalalithaa’s demise?
After the demise of Amma (Jayalalithaa), the party under OPS-EPS leadership failed to win the confidence of the people. The leadership crisis snowballed into a major problem, resulting in factionalism under EPS and OPS, and lost the trust of the people.
Do you think that AIADMK is losing its vote bank among minorities?
Certainly. Alliance with the BJP and supporting its anti-minorities’ policies are the reasons for the AIADMK to lose the vote bank among minorities. This alienated the party from the minorities. The cadre are demoralised, besides the party is losing the people’s faith. These factors will act against the growth of the party.
When Thalaivar (MGR) started the party, nearly 80 per cent of the minorities voted for the AIADMK. When Jayalalithaa aligned with the BJP, the minorities showed their dissent. But, she exited from the BJP alliance and announced that she would not repeat the mistake of forming an alliance with the BJP party. The party returned to power in 2001 with the support of the minorities.
Whenever the party faced the election in the BJP alliance, it faced defeat and lost the minorities support, who are a crucial factor in Tamil Nadu state politics. Hence, it’s high time the leadership realises this to win back the trust of the minorities.