‘I don’t see myself as an outsider’

Congress’ Theni candidate says his record speaks for itself

Published - April 08, 2019 12:13 am IST - Theni

CHENNAI, TAMIL NADU, 09/12/2016: Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) former president E.V.K.S. Elangovan.
Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

CHENNAI, TAMIL NADU, 09/12/2016: Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) former president E.V.K.S. Elangovan. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

There were raised eyebrows when former Union Minister and TNCC president E.V.K.S. Elangovan was fielded by the Congress in the Theni parliamentary constituency instead of any of those in the western belt of the State, from where he hails. But Mr. Elangovan hardly gives an impression of someone parachuting into a southern constituency. He has rented a house that was once occupied by former AIADMK leader and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa during her election campaign, and is using it as his base. He rejects the argument that he is an outsider to the constituency. Excerpts:

It is well known that you wanted to contest the Erode parliamentary constituency. But now, you have entered the fray in Theni, a relatively new terrain for you. Are you comfortable with the constituency?

Of course Erode was my choice. But it was allotted to the DMK in our alliance. I was prepared to contest from any constituency in the State except Kanniyakumari and the reserved constituencies. Former Theni MP J.M. Haroon of the Congress was supposed to contest from here, but he opted out since he had undergone a surgery. So, the constituency was allotted to me.

Your principal opponents, O.P. Ravindaranath Kumar of the AIADMK and Thanga Tamilselvan of the AMMK, are natives of the district. How would you battle the image of being an outsider?

I do not see myself as an outsider to the Theni Lok Sabha constituency. I am the grandson of Periyar (E.V. Ramasamy) and my father E.V.K. Sampath was a well-known political leader. I have been in politics for the last 40 years and have served as the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president three times. I was also a Union Minister (in the United Progressive Alliance government) and have travelled to every part of the State. I can serve the people and the constituency better than the other candidates.

Candidates in this constituency primarily depend on the votes of the communities to which they belong. How do you overcome such ground considerations?

I am above caste and religion. The people of Tamil Nadu also will not go by narrow considerations to elect a candidate. They always want an able and efficient representative who will speak up for them in Parliament.

Politics apart, what are the issues you are facing in the field during your campaign?

People have a lot of expectations, and sometimes, I am scared of them. One of the important demands is to undertake railway gauge conversion up to Sabarimala. The work is progressing slowly and needs to be speeded up. Another key issue is raising the water level of the Mullaperiyar dam to 152 ft. The district is producing almost every fruit, and we have to set up a mango fruit pulp manufacturing unit like the one in Krishnagiri district and a cold storage facility for grapes.

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