By reversing its commitment of support to the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) in the Rajya Sabha polls from Tamil Nadu last year, the State Congress, on hindsight, now feels it missed a crucial opportunity to befriend a new electoral ally. Yet, notwithstanding the overwhelming odds now, the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee President, B.S. Gnanadesikan is still upbeat about a good show by the Congress in the Lok Sabha polls. Excerpts from an exclusive interview he gave Sruthisagar Yamunan.
Sivaganga constituency has been allotted to Karti Chidambaram. Was his last name the consideration?
In the absence of Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, it was Mr. Karti who undertook party work in Sivaganga. He has very good presence there and hence the seat was allotted to him.
Were there not other options?
Union Minister Sudarsana Natchiappan staked claim for the seat. Mr. Natchiappan is a Rajya Sabha member. His term ends in 2016; so may be the high command felt the seat could be given to someone else.
Seniors like Mr. Chidambaram, G.K. Vasan and K.V. Thangkabalu have opted out. Was it fear of defeat?
I would have been happy had they contested. But unlike other parties, Congress in Tamil Nadu lacks star campaigners here. If all seniors are locked up in their constituencies, we won’t have anyone to campaign.
Your take on the BJP-led front in Tamil Nadu?
It is a bundle of contradictions. I do not think they will stay together till the election date nor will they win a single seat.
But the Congress is worse off with no allies. Was the Sri Lankan Tamils issue the reason why you have been alienated?
In the last elections (2009 Lok Sabha) also, Sri Lankan Tamils issue was alive. Therefore, that is not the reason.
You have called the BJP alliance in Tamil Nadu opportunistic. Was the DMK-Congress break-up too an opportunistic move on the part of DMK?
No. The DMK might have thought they could try their luck going without us. Otherwise, there is no justification for them for leaving UPA. The DMK was part of our government till a year ago. When three senior Ministers came to meet the DMK chief M. Karunanidhi on the UN resolution issue in March last year, he placed several demands for amendments. They promised that they will go back to Delhi, consult the leadership and revert. But, before the Congress core group could meet, DMK’s announcement of withdrawal of support came.
Does that mean the DMK used the issue as an excuse to snap ties?
I am not saying that. You can draw your own inference.
You failed to back the DMDK in RS polls last year. Was that a mistake which cost you a possible ally?
We committed ourselves to back the DMDK (on the Rajya Sabha seat) and communicated it to them. But at the last minute, the request from DMK came. As it was Mr. Karunanidhi’s daughter (Ms. Kanimozhi) who was the candidate, the high command decided to support the DMK. Our leaders share a good personal rapport with Mr. Karunanidhi. The DMK asked for support knowing well that the DMDK and the Congress were getting closer at that time.
Should personal equations influence political decisions?
The Congress leaders are not cut-throat politicians. Sentiments do prevail over political considerations.