Tamil Nadu

Udayakumar: Church has not sponsored me

He led a people’s protest at Idinthakari near Kudankulam that turned the spotlight on the pros and cons of nuclear energy. With his nomination as Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) candidate for Kanyakumari, anti-nuclear activist S.P. Udayakumar hopes to take his arguments against nuclear plants to the floor of Parliament. Excerpts from the interview he gave Sruthisagar Yamunan:

You are perceived to have strong association with the Church in South Tamil Nadu. How does the Church in Kanyakumari view your candidature?

I have not associated myself with the Church in any official manner. I happen to be fighting against a nuclear plant which is in a Christian village. Of course, the people who were in the struggle were Christians. The Church has not sponsored either me or any other candidate.

You decided to go to the AAP rather than jump into the fray on your own. How will this help?

It has helped widen the base. Young and first-time voters are enthusiastic about the AAP and also are people who are fed up with the corrupt political discourse of the day. As days go by, I am sure this support will swell.

But the AAP has not come out in clear terms on where it stands on nuclear energy. So what made you choose the party?

We wrote letters to many parties but received no replies. On the other hand, senior AAP leader Prashant Bhushan is arguing our case in the Supreme Court. Mr. Kejriwal came to Idinthakarai and supported us. The party has given to us in writing that the local people should give their consent for any mega project. This answers most of our concerns. They have also agreed that there needs to be a larger debate on the nuclear policy of the country.

Some parties in Tamil Nadu supported your anti-nuclear struggle but have joined hands with the BJP which does not oppose nuclear energy. How do you see this?

It is unfortunate. The MDMK, the PMK, the VCK and others have joined hands with parties that are pro-nuclear. It is political expediency which is the reason. This is why we chose an alternative outside Tamil Nadu in the AAP.

But the AAP doesn’t seem to be taking on the BJP or the Congress stridently in Tamil Nadu despite being ideologically against them. Why so?

I do not have an answer for that. The AAP is a young party and it is even younger in Tamil Nadu. It is not very well organised in the State yet. There is also no strong leadership for the party. These are the reasons I think we have not come out clearly on many issues.

Union Minister V. Narayanasamy accused you of accessing foreign funds. The Delhi HC has ruled both the Congress and the BJP have violated laws governing foreign contributions. How do you see it?

This is divine justice. We never accessed any foreign funding or any illegal funding for that matter. Every thing we do is done openly.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 4:08:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/udayakumar-church-has-not-sponsored-me/article5860022.ece

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