Amid his busy election schedule, MDMK general secretary Vaiko, who launched his party's poll campaign on Sunday, took time off to speak to The Hindu
Here are the excerpts:
The two major Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu are facing the Lok Sabha election without the support of any National party. Will the NDA be an alternative force? You seem to be banking more on anti-Congress sentiments?
For the first time, when there is a tremendous wave in favour of Narendra Modi neither the DMK nor the AIADMK have aligned with the BJP to reap benefits. When it comes to Lok Sabha elections, both the major Dravidian parties have always gained from the wave going in favour of national parties.
This is a new dimension in Tamil Nadu politics. The people are angry the way Congress betrayed them on several issues. I see the writing on the wall that the BJP will form the next government at the Centre. For the first time, the NDA will push the DMK and the AIADMK behind and emerge victorious in the State thereby providing an effective alternative to the people.
You have endorsed a 'Modi wave' across the country. What will be its impact in Tamil Nadu where the BJP has not been able to establish a strong foothold over the years?
I see a tremendous wave in favour of Mr. Narendra Modi. While anti-Congress sentiments are in the minds of the people, the BJP has done meticulous ground work to establish the party’s presence across the State. I am amazed at the systematic work done by the BJP in the last three years which no other party, including the MDMK, has done.
Do you see any difference between the BJP led by Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee and Mr. Narendra Modi? Are you confident that Mr. Modi as Prime Minister will adopt the stand of Mr. Vajpayee on the Sri Lankan issue?
In my opinion, what has been moulded by Atal Bihari Vajpayee cannot and will not be undone. I hope Mr. Modi will follow the footsteps of the veteran leader on various issues, particularly the ethnic problem of Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Despite criticism, you continue to support the LTTE and the cause of Eelam Tamils. Many believe that this ideology came in the way of your party's growth over the years?
In 1995 when I declared in the MDMK State conference at Tiruchi that Tamil Eelam was the only solution to the ethnic problem of Tamils, many criticised me and a section of media kept me out of coverage for years. But now, every party is out to protect the interests of Eelam Tamils. I know the undercurrent of the problem and the support came from my heart. The MDMK was the first to demand a referendum among Sri Lankan Tamils and our demand is today backed by all. I did not change my policy and conviction for the sake of election…I stood my ground. Many people told me that I am losing because of my support for the Sri Lankan Tamils. But our stand on the issue is well justified.
You have met Mr. M.K. Alagiri in Madurai on Sunday. Are you seeking his support for this election? Do you see a role for Mr. Alagiri in Tamil Nadu politics in the near future?
I think Alagiri was punished for no fault of his. I felt very sad when he was suspended from the DMK. Though I have criticised Mr. Alagiri on many occasions, he never uttered a word against me. I called on him as a friend and to enquire about his mother’s health. Yes, I have sought his support for the seven MDMK candidates and he replied positively.
Mr. Alagiri is a strong man. I like his political character…he stands for the people who stood by him. He never lets down his loyalists and committed party cadres. He is a man to be watched in the future.
Will you be part of the next regime at the Centre if the BJP forms the Government and MDMK decides to join?
The MDMK has decided to join the Ministry if the NDA forms the government.
In 2004, we decided not to join the Government even before the election. I hope we will win this time and join if invited. But I cannot make any commitment on my joining the Ministry.
Your promise to close down nuclear power plants has come at a time when Tamil Nadu is reeling under power shortage?
Nuclear power is never a solution. All the 21 nuclear plants put together generate only 2.7 per cent of total power generated in the country…we have to do away with the nuclear option as it poses a grave threat to the safety of people. We will strive to close down the nuclear plants.