People feel T.N. has been neglected: Dayanidhi Maran

Chennai Central DMK candidate Dayanidhi Maran says he is confident of a win

Updated - April 04, 2019 08:11 am IST

Published - April 04, 2019 01:29 am IST

Dayanidhi Maran.

Dayanidhi Maran.

Former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran, the grandnephew of DMK leader M. Karunanidhi, is very optimistic about winning the Lok Sabha election from the Chennai Central constituency from where he is being fielded. On Tuesday, even as the campaign heats up, he discussed his plans, prospects and the challenges that his constituency is facing. Excerpts:

As a battle-scarred veteran of the polls, how do you perceive this current election, vis-a-vis your opponents?

This election has given me the confidence that I had in 2004. After 15 years, when I now see the people’s reaction here — they are very angry with the Narendra Modi government. They feel that Tamil Nadu has been neglected. Where was he (referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi) during NEET, when the Sterlite issue broke out, and during foods and cyclones? I see an anti-BJP and an anti-AIADMK wave everywhere.

The DMK has taken a strong secular plank this elections. Will that help you this time, especially considering you have two opponents from the minority communities?

The DMK’s foundation has been secular from day one. Kalaignar (M. Karunanidhi) was at the forefront of secularism, keeping safe the interests of all minorities. Today, the minorities feel secure under the DMK regime, they feel secure under the Congress. It is the strategy of our opponents to isolate the minorities. The minorities are not going to be swayed with the cheap tricks of the BJP. They know that the BJP is not for minorities.

You have won the elections from the same place, in 2004 and 2009. 2014 did not go so well. So how do you fancy your chances this time around?

In 2014, the AIADMK had a grand alliance with the Election Commission of India. It was only in Tamil Nadu that Section 144 was put in place. They allowed the AIADMK to pay money to people and we protested, and said ‘please postpone the election.’ By the time we could negotiate this, the elections were over. It was because of Section 144 that AIADMK won the election last time. This time, people know that they had elected an MP who was not seen for the last five years. So, we will win the election, this time.

Your views on cash for votes?

DMK as a party has always been against cash for votes. In 2014, when Jayalalithaa did it, we opposed it.

What are the key issues that you would like to address in the Chennai Central constituency from where you have been fielded for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections?

Unfortunately, the issues continue to be stagnant. In 2004, when I first contested in the Chennai Central constituency, we saw women on the roads with empty pots, waiting for water. At that time, we (the DMK) announced that we would find solutions for the water crisis. The moment people elected us, we set up a desalination plant in Chennai city worth ₹1,000 crore. In 2006, when DMK came to power we commissioned another desalination plant in Chennai. Now the population has grown by leaps and bounds, but the present government has not planned for water management at all. The first thing we would like to do is resolve the water crisis by getting a larger desalination plant and put better water management systems in place.

The second challenge is traffic. During the DMK regime we constructed flyovers and bridges. We will ensure that traffic issues are resolved and will install proper traffic lights at every junction. We talk so much about a Smart City — so we should have better automated traffic management systems.

Employment is another key issue that we will take up. Because of demonetisation lots of small entrepreneurs have closed shop. Chennai is famous for start-ups but we are stuck at this point. We will encourage more start-ups.

How engaged are you with the constituents here considering you have represented them twice?

During our tenure we built bridges, flyovers and subways here. We have done infrastructure work that are permanent. In the last five years without doing any kind of publicity we did work here silently. We were part of good and bad things that happened there — be it floods or cyclone, I was there.

In the last one week, while campaigning you spoke about unemployment, job loss and salary levels dropping. On one side we have automation which is taking over human jobs and the other side we have lot of unskilled labour. Do you have a clear plan for increasing the number of skilled jobs?

When I was the IT and Telecommunications Minister we generated jobs in India and Tamil Nadu. We managed to bring in multinational firms including Samsung, Motorola and created huge employment opportunities. Today, all the industries have gone to Bengaluru or Hyderabad. If you look at salaries of engineering graduates, it has fallen too. During my second term when I was the Minister for Textiles we emphasised on skill development. We will ensure that we have multiple structures where we can groom youngsters.

This is the first election for the DMK without its legendary leader M. Karunanidhi — How easy or challenging is it going to be?

This is the first time we are facing polls without our leader — we miss him and the way he formed alliances. But our leader M.K. Stalin has formed a similar alliance that has already won the hearts of the people. We will win the election and this is the best tribute we can give to our leader for his birth anniversary on June 3.

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