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Updated: July 23, 2011 10:54 IST

Anything can happen before 2014: Jayalalithaa

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JAYALALITHAA: "The people of this country want a change. They want a strong government in the Centre."

Interview with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who had made an offer of support to the United Progressive Alliance on November 11, 2010, prior to A. Raja's removal as Telecom Minister, has reiterated that it was only a one-time offer; there was no question now of working with the Congress. She said a political realignment could happen before the 2014 general elections. “Anything can happen anytime,” she said when asked about the possibility of elections before 2014. The people wanted a strong and authoritative government to give them a sense of security. She did not rule out the possibility of national political realignment in the near future but did not explain why she felt such a realignment can happen anytime soon. She made it clear that she had moved on from 1999 when she withdrew support to the Vajpayee government, leading to its downfall: in the present context she might have acted differently. She did not rule out the possibility of a third front emerging, or the possibility of her being a part of it.

Excerpts from an interview the Chief Minister gave Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief of the Times Now television channel, in Chennai on June 27.

Ms. Jayalalithaa, I've always considered you to be forthright and direct. When you spoke to me last on November 11, 2010, you made a dramatic offer, and I'm quoting you: you said if required the AIADMK would be willing to support the Central government. May I ask you ma'am, the circumstance and context in which you said that, and how you look back at it now?

In November 2010, the entire political situation was different. At that time, the Centre had not taken any action against those involved in the 2G spectrum scam. Though the nation was expecting [it], no action was taken. So at that time there was a feeling that the Centre was hesitating due to the compulsions of coalition politics. So that's why I made the offer, so that the Congress could feel assured, so that it would not have to suffer in case the DMK withdrew support to the government…. It was in that context that I made the offer, so that the Congress that was heading the coalition at the Centre would be reassured, so that if it did take strong action against corruption the government would not suffer and the government would not fall because of such action. So that they could continue. It was to give them that reassurance and the confidence that I made that offer. But now, the situation has totally changed. The Congress has made it clear that it has an alliance with the DMK, and it did face the elections with the DMK. And even after the results were known and they suffered a massive defeat, the Congress continues to say that they have an alliance with DMK, and it continues to be a part of the ruling coalition. And till date it is an important part of the alliance.

So, why were they so cool to your offer at that point of time? Because it was a very explicit offer. In fact you even put out the numbers. You said to them that the Congress does not want to lose the support of those 18, but now, and I'm quoting you, the DMK's position has become untenable, Raja's position became untenable. In fact Raja went three days after my question. Ms. Jayalalithaa, why were they cool to you? And do you think you set the ball rolling for Raja's ouster?

That's what the entire nation felt and said. But as to why [the] Congress didn't take up my offer, you should put it to the Congress. It's all history to me, it's in the past. It was a totally different scenario, [it's a] totally different situation in politics now. It doesn't exist anymore.

But don't you think political alliances, Ms. Jayalalithaa… the Congress leaders have said, and I'm quoting them, that the relationship with the DMK and the case against Mr. Raja are not related. That's what they say.

But that's not the way the nation sees it, that's not the way the people see it.

But my question again, Ms. Jayalalithaa — I'm going to be persistent on this — I can't fathom why they said no to you. The relationship with the DMK did not work electorally, they had a standing offer from [you] and yet they didn't take up the offer, act on Raja. It's a bit of a piecemeal effort, isn't it?

You used the words ‘standing offer.' It wasn't a standing offer [I] made in November. It wasn't a standing offer. And I repeat, as to why the Congress didn't take up that offer, they should answer it, they are the best judges and they should answer your question. As far as I'm concerned, I made that offer in a particular context, in a particular situation. And as far as I'm concerned, that situation doesn't exist anymore.

Do you think coalition politics with a greater role for regional players is the order of the day?

I can't make any predictions, I'm not an astrologer. But in trying to answer your questions, I can only say that it does seem that the days of single party majority rule are over. I think we are destined to live with coalition governments in the future. I don't think any party is capable of getting a single majority on its own.

By that definition, you as leader of one of the largest parties apart from the Congress and the BJP in the present political situation in India, in 2014… you will be a major player. You can't restrict yourself to Chennai.

Let's wait for the next general election to come around. It's hardly been a month, a month and a half or may be a little over a month since I took over. Let's see how this turns out.

Can I please interpret your earlier answer… you seem to indicate a mid-term election could happen, before 2014?

Anything can happen at any time. I didn't say something would happen. Anything can happen. We have to be prepared.

Prior to 2014?

Possibly, anything can happen.

Why do you say so?

No, I don't want to elaborate.

Everyone is very keen to know what you have been talking to top BJP leaders, and there has been a great deal of attention paid to your meeting with Sushma Swaraj, on the fact that Narendra Modi being present at your swearing-in ceremony, a very important gesture. Ideologically, surely you have no differences with the BJP in terms of working with them?

Earlier, when Mr. Narendra Modi was sworn in as the Chief Minister for the second time, I attended his swearing-in ceremony in Ahmedabad in 2002. So Modi returned the compliment now when I was sworn in. When you refer to Sushma Swaraj, you are omitting Sheila Dikshit. Both Ms. Sheila Dikshit and Sushma Swaraj are very charming and gracious ladies, both are my friends and paid courtesy calls, and especially called on me to congratulate me on my victory in the recent Assembly elections. Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad is a very good friend of mine and has appeared as a lawyer for me in some cases, so we know each other really well. So, we call on each other when we get the chance.

People say Narendra Modi could be a prime ministerial candidate of the BJP, Sushma could be prime ministerial candidate. So there is a slight difference between them and Sheila Dikshit and the two other leaders who you mentioned. Therefore, the general feeling is that everyone in the BJP, especially those who are aspirants for the top job, would believe that they can't get there without your support. Do you feel that is not an important inference for us to draw about your meetings with the BJP?

I've friends in all parties. My friends have spread all over the political spectrum, so I have good friends in the BJP, the Congress and other political parties too. They call on me as friends. They are friendly visits, and if you choose to read more into it, then I'm not responsible for it. It's not my problem.

The Congress party said when the Gujarat Chief Minister was here at your swearing-in ceremony: they said, I don't think there needs to be any elaboration that the Gujarat Chief Minister has orchestrated the worst genocide in independent India and therefore should not be touched with a barge pole. This comment was made only because Modi came here for your swearing-in ceremony

Let's not get into a discussion on Narendra Modi. He is a good friend, that's all.

When you look back at 1998-99, you said that time moves on and political views change. The reasons for which you had differences with the NDA in 1999, and now when you look at it in 2011... Could there be a fresh start?

Any person evolves with time and experience. It's the same with any political leader. If the same situation that occurred in 1999 had arisen today, I'd have acted differently and responded differently. You gain experience as time goes on. So, what was your question?

When you look back at 1999, the circumstances in which you withdrew your support to the NDA and in 2011 when you look back, you say that things move on, you say you could have reacted differently?

I'd like to stress on one thing: if you constantly keep looking back and harping on what goes on in the past, you cannot go on, can't do politics. So if you insist on what transpired in the past, and you dwell on issues that happened in the past, you're stagnating. You're preventing yourself from moving forward. As far as I am concerned, I live in the present and look towards the future.

In today's political environment, if Jayalalithaa is ambivalent — not ambivalent perhaps, but equidistant from both the parties — then that would throw up a whirlwind of opportunities for political parties in Delhi. What about the possibility of a third front? It did badly in the 2009 elections. Do you think, given the federal structure of our politics and the fact that the States need a greater voice at the Centre, that it is realistic or unrealistic… or perhaps a third front in the future?

Anything can happen in politics, and particularly in India anything can happen in Indian politics. So let's wait and see what the future throws up.

Would it be unrealistic to think about it?

I said let's wait and see what the future throws up. The future may not be so long away either.

Why do you say that? The future is quite far away as of now.

Well, that's what you think, but there could be changes earlier. As I said, you never know what will happen because one can generally sense what is the mood of the people. The people of this country want a change. They want a strong government in the Centre. They want a strong, authoritative government at the Centre. They want a government that will have a no-nonsense attitude towards corruption, and they want a government that will provide security against our unfriendly, hostile neighbours. So anything can happen in the future.

I would request you to give your observations on the national mood. You've seen the Lokpal debate. Where do you stand on the issue of, say the inclusion of the Prime Minister in the Lokpal bill, an issue which the government clearly is not keen to discuss?

I will enunciate my views very clearly. The proposed Lokpal bill should exclude the Prime Minister for the following reasons: the Prime Minister is already covered under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Any misconduct by the Prime Minister can be investigated by the CBI. Sometimes the Lokpal could be used by foreign powers to destabilise the government. But when a frivolous and politically motivated complaint against the Prime Minister is referred before the Lokpal and if the same is telecast by the TV channels — which will run it round-the-clock — it would dent the Prime Minister's credibility and authority. Even if nothing comes out of it, it will seriously dent the authority of the Prime Minister.

The Lokpal can investigate all allegations, and therefore when the allegations are levelled against the Prime Minister, when a complaint is put before the Lokpal, he will be put on the defensive and will be occupied in defending himself. In such an event, how can the government which is reliant on the Prime Minister work? The functioning of the Lokpal, inclusive of the Prime Minister, will pave the way for a parallel government which will undermine the authority of the Prime Minister. The State government of Tamil Nadu hasn't given its view, since no final draft has been arrived at. The Lokpal is much more than what is envisaged in the PCA. The State's view is that the Lokpal is much more than [has been] envisaged. The State's view can be formulated only after the final draft is given in Parliament. That's my view I have enunciated.

There are two ways in which politicians can be at the national level. It's inevitable that you'll play a role at the national level…

That's your assessment.

It has been the experience in the past.

I take it as a compliment, thank you very much.

What about a national role? Is it impossible to conjecture that you will look for a larger role for your party and yourself at the national level? Please don't dodge the question.

I'm not trying to dodge your question, I will answer it in my own way. I take life as it comes. I never planned a career in politics for myself. I never had any preparation for a career in politics. I never thought I could be Chief Minister and I didn't want to either. Somehow I did, and I became Chief Minister not once, but three times. I've no national ambition for myself. I have an ambition for India: I want India to be the superpower in the world. It has the potential to be [one]. So for that it needs a strong, patriotic leader at the helm of affairs. I've no personal ambitions, I go where my destiny takes me.

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A great interview! Most importantly, I am happy to see this interview carried in the HINDU (albeit a repeat), a newspaper my 79year old mother (and I) cherishes since childhood and which has put to rest the many conspiracy theories doing the rounds in chennai that 'this newspaper is leaning far too left off late' and 'has its own bias for the DMK due to family ties' and 'prejudice against the AIDMK' due to the same reason! We all know Media plays such a important role in shaping the country's destiny. 'Hindu' has done that for many decades now and should stand out from the rest. Public have a right to peer into the conscience of the politicians they elect. In this interview, Jaya has pretty much stated her postion on some very important views which she is fully aware will be held against her should she renege. We have some good politicians doing the same such as Modi and Nitish. Who know, like minded souls like this could propel India to a superpower status with a robust central govt

from:  hari
Posted on: Jul 23, 2011 at 10:05 IST

The interview shows that Ms.Jayalalitha has evolved into a mature politician, having grasped very well the mood of the people and their expectations. Her recent victory in Tamil Nadu is historical in as much as she has become a leader of a "silent revolution" against corruption. This has won her respect from all across the political spectrum. In critical times of history, leaders evolve having full understanding of the situation,unmoved emotionally by situations.For example,her defense of the institution of PM for exclusion from the Lokpal Bill, is well-grounded on reasoning and logic. In an atmosphere of ambiguities and ambivalence, she forthright and frank. Frankly, the kudos for her being elected as leader of Tamil Nadu, goes to the people of Tamil Nadu who have ushered in a change in politics,giving hope of good governance.

from:  deepak
Posted on: Jul 19, 2011 at 02:53 IST

Those who praise the chief minister's interview for her maturity should recall the manner in which she hurled charges against Home minister against whom election petition is still pending in court of law.Is it appropriate for a CM to comment on the issue which is sub judice.

from:  GANESH
Posted on: Jul 8, 2011 at 14:13 IST

The words of the CM in the interview are excellent and they are selected and blessed words.I love the interview.

from:  SaiSrinivasan
Posted on: Jul 2, 2011 at 13:30 IST

Ms Jayalalitha has matured by experience which can be easily seen by the way she has answered to all the questions. I just wish all the CM's to start Lokayut in all respective states to stop corruption. Drops of water make a lake.

from:  Pavan Bandenavar
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 15:54 IST

The jury is still out on most of the issues covered by this interview.Yet by making Tamilnadu an ideal state with no-nonsense attitude towards corruprtion and making other much needed reforms Ms.Jayalalitha could be a trailblazer.

from:  Madhuri Venkatraman
Posted on: Jun 30, 2011 at 03:18 IST

Madam J's replies are excellent and different from the past.I am a south Indian following her words since long. At present the turf is clean, no M.K.. No Azhagiri. No Stalin. Opposition has no life or confined to Tihar Jail. J is therefore is really fast,keeping the TN people glued to her announcements and actions almost on hourly basis.Is she not in a great hurry,just in 40 days? Let us leave the new secretariat building,laptops, gold 'thaalis', etc.The free rice and the speed with which the power and educational reforms are handled are sure to give her immense popularity amongst us,TN people. We are less worried about her national role just now. Let it wait.We need power first.

from:  D.Rajagopal
Posted on: Jun 29, 2011 at 17:02 IST

While exposing the maturity of Jaya it also exposes the immaturity of the interviewer, who is bullying the person 'interviewed to agree with their own views' as Mr. K.Vijayakumar rightly pointed out, especially question about Modi. But Jaya has tactfully handled all the questions and has very excellently come out with answers. An exemplary interview for other politicians on how to answer tough questions.

from:  M K Varadarajan
Posted on: Jun 29, 2011 at 14:44 IST

Really jayalalita has matured a lot and i wish she should not support congress which was defeated by people of tamilnadu because of their rampant corruption.Amma should not support congress in any case.

from:  pUnTeR
Posted on: Jun 29, 2011 at 13:55 IST

That there are no permanent friends or foes in political class is a well known dictum. Ms Jayalalitha knows this too well. People are definitely against UPA which only knows how to rob 'aam admi' and favour crore pathis. What they throw as subsidies is a pittance compoared to the loot they resort to. Eternal vigilence the price we have to pay for purchasing peace.

from:  Prabhakara
Posted on: Jun 29, 2011 at 13:21 IST

Had Karunanidhi opposed inclusion of Prime Minister under the purview of Lokpal Bill, Jayalalitha's views would have been completely different. Command in English cannot be a qualification to become an effective Prime Minister. She has only been undoing the policy decisions of the earlier government so far. She seems to be more interested in fishing in troubled waters by hoping for a fractured mandate in Lok Sabha polls. While campaigning for assembly polls, she stated that its not in the interest of the State to have a coalition government. How could something that is not good for the state be good for the country?

from:  Srini
Posted on: Jun 29, 2011 at 09:14 IST

It looks like chief minister has come off age and more statesmanlike speech rather than a tumultuous one. Just for one statement "government that will provide security against our unfriendly, hostile neighbours". I am not sure where this is going. Prosperity comes at a cost and in this case dealing with hostile neighbours in a diplomatic way. It is important to maintain good relations with neighbours and maintain mutual relationship. I accept it is a two way street and would like to see future leaders stand-by this conviction.

from:  Sundeep
Posted on: Jun 29, 2011 at 02:27 IST

Well, its clear now she has the aspiration to play a greater role in National Level Politics, maybe her recent hisotric victory made her to think of entering the National Politics. When the voters of TN can collectively voted against a regime,why not in Natinal Level? Anything can happen if she compose a strong 'third front'.

from:  C J Chandra Sekaran.
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 18:03 IST

Bravo, Miss Jayalalitha. Well spoken and very sane and very valid points why the Prime Minister should NOT come under the ambit of the Lokpal. Hope the whole Nation understands this important point why the PM of India should be kept out of the Lokpal's purview.

from:  Shan
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 17:58 IST

Ms. Jayalalitha's interview shows that she is matured with time...But I am still curious on how the next 5 years turns out to be...

from:  Arun
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 17:45 IST

She is enough mature politician this time by talking straight.Her view on the Lokpal bill is incredible and which is right perception.Every one wants PM office should come under the bill considering present situation but not thinking about the future like how effective this LOKPAL work with out influencing the politician and foreign power but i didn't recognize how effectively CBI working.

from:  Datt
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 17:41 IST

The statement - "I have an ambition for India: I want India to be the superpower in the world. It has the potential to be [one]. So for that it needs a strong, patriotic leader at the helm of affairs." It's nice to hear from Tamil Nadu CM. But the same CM has damaged the name of Tamil Nadu in her two terms. first by corruption and then by her arrogant style of politics. As she said "any thing can happen in politics." I believe this time she will do some serious good job for the state and for the nation.

from:  Sayeed Azami
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 17:14 IST

TN CM does exhibit a level-headed personality in her new term of office. This is a God-given opportunity for her to blossom into a statesman in the likes of Rajaji and Kamaraj. It would be wise for her not to align with the tainted Congress, whatever be the enticements. Again, if she moves into national politics, she might lose her base in TN and she might become a victim of the coalition parties at the centre. Let us hope that she would give good governance in TN - that's all what matters now.

from:  D. Chandramouli
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 16:24 IST

Does Jayalalitha have a well defined ideology and if there is one, what that is? Talk show anchors like Arnb Goswami and TV interviewers like Karan Tapar are of course not likely to ask such a question. What comes out in their qustions to a person or a panel is what they think about men and matters and the purpose of the questions is to find out whether the interviewd person or the members of the panel agree with their own views. What the people want to know is something about the ideolgy or in other words the political, social,economic and cultural doctrines or beliefs of their leaders and rulers. TV interviews rarely bring this information out. The interview reported above proves this point.

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 16:23 IST

Well said, she can pay a major roll for national politics

from:  deva
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 15:47 IST

She wants others to think she is wiser than before, but her performance so far in the state clearly shows Karunanidhi as her ghost; at the national level she is still going to be unreliable.

from:  Xavier Surender
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 14:02 IST

Well, Lot of Maturity ..... I would invite Ms.Jayalalitha to have her the past complete in all aspects. If she can takes on Karan Thapar and deal with him then we can conclude that she is really matured enough to play national role in politics. Until then, in my opinion, she is still driven by her vengeance and past, like she said "If you dwell on issues that happened in the past, you're stagnating." Lets wait and see if she is dwelling in the past.

from:  Suresh
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 13:56 IST

Excellent interview! It apparently exposes the maturity of Jaya and her interest in national politics. Her sight on Center is clear and i think that she has drawn her future plan.

from:  Baranidaran
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 13:52 IST

The statement - "I have an ambition for India: I want India to be the superpower in the world. It has the potential to be [one]. So for that it needs a strong, patriotic leader at the helm of affairs" - made by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister shows her true patriotism and her willingness to lead the country from the front. Let us all hope for a bright and powerful India.

from:  Ramasamy Sankararaj
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 13:47 IST

Sir, The only politician to talk sensibly on all the issues with neutral observations and lot of clarity, as in the case of PM and CBI being brought under the purview of the Lokpal Bill, Brahmaputra and Katchatheevu . You should not oppose for the sake of opposition like so many others. She is at the height of her maturity level and we need more such leaders like her in India.As she rightly said, LOKPAL should not become an independent authority in itself. If it goes that way, we can better elect 10 Lokpal members rather than 542 MPs and run the country.

from:  Gopalakrishnan
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 13:31 IST

She is very mature now..(remember her interview with Karan Thapar?)She has been one of the most educated and one of the very few politicians who is well versed in English..The points which she highlighted about "PM should not be included in Lokpall bill" was excellent..Everyone knows what kind of person jayalalitha is;you have to buy words from her mouth..As everyone's wish if she act accroding to her speech then she can become a great leader at state/centre..

The only question which I would have asked Jayalalithaa was "why she did not move to the new secretariat assembly in Chennai".? She might still have that 'revenge-taking' character burning inside especially against Mr Karunanidhi..she should take decisions in the interest of the the state. After spending so much crores the energy efficient new secretariat will turn into a library.!

I believe now since there is another scam against that new secretariat she doesn't want to get in unless that is resolved?

from:  Vasan KS
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 13:27 IST

Sir, first I thank you for bringing this interview.It is quite clear to me that as long as Sonia Gandhi is at the helm of UPA she will not support it in near futrure.So we could hope to get President not from congress in future.

from:  Sukesh Manav
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 12:24 IST

A good point about why the PM should not be included in the Lokpal bill. Why doesn't the media give any importance to this view? Even in this article you have not mentioned anything about it in the summary.

from:  Rangaram
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 09:36 IST

The worst genocide was committed by Congress. Did you forget 1984 riots, Arnab?

from:  Prakash
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 09:35 IST

Interesting interview. In Indian Politics any thing may happen at any time.It was nice, that she made Categoricl statement her offer to Congress was only one time and not standing. She raised the doubt ,why still Congress continues with DMK,Inspite of So many Ministers with Corruption charges and other allegations..Over all this interview is going to have a big impact ,even before 2014..

from:  K.Ragavan
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 08:27 IST

Jayalalithaa is a matured leader who is statesmanlike. Her interview telecast by the Times TV channel presents her views on several issues relating to domestic and foreign policy. She presents her views with candour and clarity. My own impression is, she should switch over to national politics, she will make a great Prime-Minister.

from:  V.B.N.Ram
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 07:50 IST

The interview shows that Ms.Jayalalitha has evolved into a mature politician, having grasped very well the mood of the people and their expectations. Her recent victory in Tamil Nadu is historical in as much as she has become a leader of a "silent revolution" against corruption. This has won her respect from all across the political spectrum. In critical times of history, leaders evolve having full understanding of the situation,unmoved emotionally by situations.For example,her defense of the institution of PM for exclusion from the Lokpal Bill, is well-grounded on reasoning and logic. In an atmosphere of ambiguities and ambivalence, she forthright and frank. Frankly, the kudos for her being elected as leader of Tamil Nadu, goes to the people of Tamil Nadu who have ushered in a change in politics,giving hope of good governance.

from:  G.Naryanaswamy
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 07:39 IST

I like the way Jayalalitha responded to the interview questions posed by Arnab Goswami. I just wish she means every word of her speech and act on it..she would certianly play a big role in national politics and would be highly respected and even idolized if stood by her word.

from:  Bharath
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 03:41 IST

"The days of single party majority rule are over " .."We are destined to live with coalition governments in the future" . To live with out single party majority we should also reconcile to bear with the ever present 'coalition dharma' Sword of Damocles hanging over the government. It difficult to imagine the fulfilling the desire of the people of this country for a 'strong, authoritative government .. that will have a no-nonsense attitude towards corruption, and… provide security against our unfriendly, hostile neighbours'.
If the people want a strong central leadership they will definitely have to vote for single party to power and ground the unrealistically ambitious regional players or face the sorry spectacle of a listless corrupt hydra headed government adrift with many power centers tearing the country asunder.

from:  N.G. Krishnan
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 02:53 IST

"It needs a strong, patriotic leader at the helm of affairs." Well said!

from:  JP
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 00:58 IST

It seems, she has become more mature now... and developed the skills of politically correct speaking... good going....

from:  anuj
Posted on: Jun 28, 2011 at 00:06 IST
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