Lok Sabha Election

There have been no caste or inter-religious clashes under Modi regime: O. Panneerselvam

Deputy Chief Minister and AIADMK coordinator O. Panneerselvam during an interview with The Hindu in Dharmapuri on March 30, 2019.   | Photo Credit: N.Bashkaran

Shortly before Deputy Chief Minister and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) coordinator O. Panneerselvam began his campaign in the Dharmapuri Lok Sabha constituency on Saturday morning, The Hindu caught up with him.

In his first interview to any media organisation after the announcement of the Lok Sabha poll schedule, Mr. Panneerselvam explains why the people of the State should support Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the AIADMK-led front; why the AIADMK is contesting fewer number of seats this time; and distribution of party ticket to women and minorities.

What is your main poll plank as part of the alliance with Prime Minister Modi?

The Prime Minister has been paying special attention and care to issues and problems faced by Tamil Nadu, and he has the onerous responsibility of ensuring equitable development of all States.

Mr. Modi does not frame policies with the aim of benefitting himself or his party or a few individuals. His policies are meant for the welfare of all. Reforms initiated by him will eventually benefit the public. In the interim period, there are some implementation issues, which are being used by the Opposition to discredit him. But their plans will not succeed.

The 'Amma' [former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa] government has not only been continuing with all the welfare measures initiated by her but also adding more schemes for people's welfare.

The political climate in the State is in favour of continuing the BJP-led government at the Centre and the 'Amma' government in the State.

What is your response to the criticism that the BJP has been against minorities?

In the last five years of the Modi government, there had not been any caste clashes or inter-religious clashes. There has been no tendency to threaten any religion.

As far as the State government is concerned, we have been functioning as a custodian of minorities and implementing schemes and programmes for their welfare.

Is it a sign of weakness of your party that the AIADMK is contesting in fewer number of Lok Sabha constituencies this time?

From the beginning, the party’s strategy for the Lok Sabha election has varied from election to election. The coalition that the AIADMK has stitched up with other parties for thecoming election is not a reflection of weakness. When several good parties come to you for alliance, you need to take them along and give them seats. We are treating all our partners equally.

Even though the southern districts of the State are known to be a stronghold of the AIADMK, your party has chosen to field its nominees only in three constituencies [out of 10 seats]. Why?

The Opposition may try to generate, for the purpose of its propaganda, the myth that we are not strong uniformly across the State. It is wrong to say that the party has got a strong base only in one or two regions. Ours is uniformly strong all over the State.

How do you explain the poor representation given to women and minorities in the distribution of ticket?

The present circumstances are such that they have to be given only a few seats. In future, this will be corrected.

What will be the impact of T.T.V. Dhinakaran's Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam on your party?

No worker of the AIADMK has gone to the Dhinakaran camp. Only some dissidents have gone to his side. He does not have even 1% of the people’s support. He is running his party for selfish reasons. So far, he has not yet given any convincing reason why he could not work together with Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanswami and others for more than a month [in early 2017].

As per many opinion polls, the DMK-led front is ahead of your party. Your response?

Opinion polls, on many occasions, have gone wrong. This was the case during the 2014 Lok Sabha and 2016 Assembly elections. Till all votes are counted, one cannot regard the findings of the opinion polls as final.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 8:12:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/there-have-not-been-any-caste-or-inter-religious-clashes-in-the-last-five-years-o-panneerselvam/article26686240.ece

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