Lok Sabha polls | Modi and Shah visiting TN to make up for the loss that awaits them in the North, says Stalin

PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah made multiple visits to the south to make up for the loss awaiting them in the northern States, says M.K. Stalin

April 15, 2024 09:05 pm | Updated April 16, 2024 02:45 pm IST - CHENNAI

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin | Photo Credit: R. Rajesh

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on April 15, in an interview with The Hindu said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah had been visiting southern States, particularly Tamil Nadu, to make up for the loss awaiting them in the northern States that used to be their stronghold.

Mr. Stalin said the purpose of this election was to decide who should not come to power rather than who should come to power.

Asked whether the BJP would be able to increase its vote share in Tamil Nadu in the Lok Sabha election, the Chief Minister said there was an attempt with the help of the media to construct a myth that the BJP is growing. He also rejected the perception that the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) may gain some traction in the election since it had snapped ties with the BJP and that its leader Edappadi K. Palaniswami had proved wrong the allegation that he and the AIADMK were slaves to the BJP.


You have campaigned in many elections and what differentiates the present election from the previous elections?

The purpose of this election is to decide who should not come to power than who should come to power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in the fray with the mask of ‘Gujarat model’ and ‘hero of development’. The mask has slipped and today he has been exposed as “corrupt Modi.” People are angry because he has damaged the entire country for his selfish politics. There is no need to step up the criticism against Mr Modi. People, who were subjected to suffering during his rule, have realised it and it is a factor that works effectively in favour of the DMK.

There is an apprehension whether democracy will survive if Mr Modi is re-elected to power. This particular allegation has not been denied by Mr Modi himself. For the first time, people of India fear India will be converted into an autocratic state.

On the one hand he has not fulfilled his promises and on the other he has betrayed Tamil Nadu. That is why the trend on the ground is clear that he should not be allowed to win.

There is a perception that the BJP will increase its vote share and emerge as an important force in Tamil Nadu…Mr Modi and his cabinet colleagues have been visiting Tamil Nadu many times. Do you think it will strengthen the party?

The Modi government is facing stiff opposition in the Northern states that used to be a source of strength. That is why Mr Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah seek to make up for it in the Southern states. In the south, particularly in Tamil Nadu, the ideology of the BJP is against the mindset of the people. That is why the road shows of Mr Modi and Mr Amit Shah became flops. On the other hand people attend in large numbers the campaign meetings of the INDIA bloc. After 2016, the BJP has been continuously making efforts to gain strength by weakening the AIADMK. The BJP is using its administrative power to achieve the goal. There is an effort with the help of the media to construct a myth that it is growing. But the BJP can never take root in Tamil Nadu. The party does not have the intention to win over even 100 voters through good schemes for Tamil Nadu. Since it is in power, it receives the attention of the media. That’s all.

The Prime Minister has visited Tamil Nadu many times, but Congress leader Rahul Gandhi just once. Has the Congress handed over the responsibility of organising the campaign to the DMK?

What does it mean? Rahul Gandhi’s one visit is equivalent to 10 visits of Mr Modi. It is like saying, “Oru thadavai Sonna Nooru Thadavai Sonna Maadhiri” (Saying once is equivalent to saying it 100 times).

Will the AIADMK make any gains since it has refused to join hands with the BJP? Has Edappadi K. Palaniswami proved wrong the allegation that he and the AIADMK were slaves to the BJP?

The separate front led by the AIADMK is an one-act play that is being enacted with the blessings of the BJP’s leadership. He [Mr Palaniswami] is not just a slave, he is a bonded labourer to the BJP. He is not ready to open his mouth against the BJP even after snapping ties with the party. It is more atrocious than his behaviour when he was part of the BJP alliance.

Mr Palaniswami cannot run party and politics against Mr Modi and Mr Amit Shah. They were the ones who allowed him to occupy the Chief Minister’s chair for four years. He is keeping low fearing the backlash of raids. Probably, he is the only leader who refused to have an alliance with a political party after meeting its leader. He was made to act in such a manner by Mr Shah.

There is a perception that a multi-cornered contest is working in DMK’s favour. How do you respond to the contention that the situation would have been tough for the DMK and the BJP and AIADMK entered into an alliance?

Elections should be judged based on the trend on the ground and not through imagination. Has the rival camp discovered the reasons for their defeat even before the results are declared? Were these parties not part of the same front in the 2019 Lok Sabha election and 2021 Assembly election? Still they were defeated.

The alliance led by the BJP is projecting Prime Minister Narendra Modi while the INDIA bloc does not project anyone as a Prime Ministerial candidate. Is it an advantage or disadvantage? In the past, coalition governments such as the United Front had failed...

INDIA bloc is the face of the alliance. Our slogan is, “Let us defeat the fascist BJP.” The alliance and the slogan have been accepted well by the people. Prime Ministerial candidates are not projected in all elections and it is the history of Indian elections.

You are questioning about United Front government, but conveniently forgot the UPA government. The media predicted a victory for the BJP which claimed that India was shining in 2004. But the Congress-led UPA at the national level with the participation of the DMK, won a majority of the seats. The victory was secured without projecting a Prime Ministerial candidate and Dr Manmohan Singh became the Prime Minister. It is history that he ruled for 10 years. The history created in 2004 will be repeated after 20 years now.

You welcomed Mr Palaniswami’s assertion that the fight in the election is only between the DMK and the AIADMK. Is there not a space for a third party in Tamil Nadu politics?

All parties have space in democracy. There are many parties in the fray. When asked about the close fight, I said it was between the DMK and the AIADMK. I do not say that there should not be a space for other parties.

There is a perception that the outcome of the elections would offer surprising results in favour of the AIADMK? Do you think Mr Palaniswami’s campaign cut ice with the voters?

What is in store for the AIADMK is a shock and not a surprise. If the AIADMK led by Mr Palaniswami makes efforts to retain the second place in the elections, it will make clear whether they are interested in nurturing the party or leading a fake alliance in favour of the BJP.

There is discontent among the government employees and teachers because the promise to implement the old pension scheme has not been fulfilled. Transport workers are yet to get their pension benefits. Will this not impact the DMK?

DMK has always been the friend of the government employees. Government employees know how MGR, Jayalalithaa and Edappadi K. Palaniswami worked against the interests of government employees when they were the Chief Ministers. They were arrested and tortured. Lakhs of government employees were dismissed overnight.

There seems to be a difference of opinion between the DMK and its allies in constituencies such as Karur and Tiruchi. Vellore also has witnessed inner party squabbling…

We respect the rights and sentiments of alliance partners. There is an effective coordination between the DMK and its allies. When we say, “forty is ours and the country is ours” it includes the constituencies you are talking about. I have directed our partymen to work as if I were the candidate of all constituencies. They are following my direction.

What is your take on the BJP’s manifesto?

Prime Minister Modi always gives guarantees without any warranty. They have cut and pasted their old promises. People have ignored the promises because they have come to the conclusion that he was not going to form the government. People have not taken the BJP’s manifesto seriously. They have prepared a manifesto without the word India. People will ignore the BJP in the election.

There is a claim that the BJP will win between 370 to 400 seats?

Even the BJP is not making the claim. We are receiving information that the BJP is facing a crisis in the Northern states. The BJP belt has been snapped by local issues in the states considered to be its stronghold. It will be proved by the election results.

In your opinion who will be the next Prime Minister?

India will have a new Prime Minister who will respect the states, people, democracy and the constitution.

Why are you so angry with Mr Modi?

Though I have nothing personally against Mr Modi, he is a representative of a wrong ideology. As a Prime Minister, his thinking is against the constitution, poor, SC/STs. We have to oppose him since he has converted his regime into a unitary and dynastic rule and destroys the states. I shared dais with him till the election dates are announced. He had normal conversation with me. So my anger is shaped by ideology and morality.

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