Lok Sabha poll will pave way for a transparent government in T.N. in 2026, says G.K. Vasan

Tamil Manila Congress (Moopanar) president G.K. Vasan speaks about why he feels that people of Tamil Nadu are looking for a change, accepts the fact that this election will be challenging for the NDA while exuding confidence of the alliance winning a comfortable number of seats with a percentage unthought of, besides seeing no reason to merge his party with the BJP as he sees his party has its own future in the State

April 16, 2024 09:20 pm | Updated 09:21 pm IST - CHENNAI

My support for the BJP is based on facts and the work which they have done, says TMC(M) president G.K. Vasan.

My support for the BJP is based on facts and the work which they have done, says TMC(M) president G.K. Vasan. | Photo Credit: RAGU R

Tamil Manila Congress (Moopanar) president G.K. Vasan is confident that the BJP-led NDA will make a mark in Tamil Nadu in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha poll by winning a comfortable number of seats. In a freewheeling interaction with journalists at The Hindu office on Tuesday, the former Union Minister spoke about the reach of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and various welfare measures of the Central government. Excerpts:

You played a crucial role talking to different allies, including the former alliance partner, Edappadi K. Palaniswami, and tried to bring them all into the NDA fold. Some parties like PMK came over. Why didn’t you succeed in bringing in the others?

I was an ally in 2019, when parties such as the AIADMK, the BJP, the PMK, the TMC and other like-minded parties were part of the NDA. We faced the Parliament election together. I felt the aim was to defeat the DMK and for that purpose, [I thought] why don’t we have a strong alliance again. This will ensure that there is no split in the votes and the winnability will also be assured. It was in my own interest. I had a friendly talk with the AIADMK chief [Mr. Palaniswami] about coming together with the BJP alliance .I was not asked by the BJP to talk to the AIADMK at any point in time. They have their own senior leaders and observers. So I don’t think they need any alliance leader to negotiate for them.

You have been campaigning for the last three weeks and have covered 33 constituencies, including the three from where the TMC(M) is contesting. What is the feedback from the people and what is your expectation of this election?

The general feeling among people is ‘Why not there be a change?’ Because this is an election for the Union government. In the past 10 years, the BJP government at the Centre has achieved stability, development and inclusiveness. They have improved the defence sector and enhanced the image of the country worldwide. I think people feel this is the need of the hour for the nation’s growth. Since many are on this track, I only hope that it will reflect on the day of voting.

Do you think you will be able to challenge both the Dravidian parties?

The fact is that it is a challenging election for us (NDA). We are giving new hope to the voters in Tamil Nadu. I really hope that the people take it positively for the State’s future. I hope this will definitely pave the way for a transparent government in the State in 2026.

There have been some attempts in the past to create a successful third front to provide an alternative. G.K. Moopanar’s TMC tried it earlier. But Tamil Nadu is largely dominated by the two Dravidian parties. Why?

In the last 55 years, there is no doubt that the Dravidian parties have been dominating the political scenario in Tamil Nadu. During the time of elections, many parties have a ride with either of the Dravidian parties for their own benefit. That has been the practice for most elections. But you can see that there were changes, whenever and wherever possible. In the 1977 and 1989 elections, there were clear changes. Congress stood alone under the leadership of Mr. Moopanar. At that time, the Dravidian parties were not in alliance with the Congress.

The Congress proved itself by winning around 27 MLAs with a considerable margin. Unfortunately, the All India Congress Committee was not able to give a clear picture to the local Congress unit for continuing the efforts to improve the party on the ground. Maybe, if they had continued their efforts, that would have resulted in a different kind of politics.

The third front was formed again in the 1999 election, but unfortunately, it was not successful for various reasons at that time. Again in 2016, the TMC (M) was part of a third front. Unfortunately, the public rejected that front. But all these elections were unique in their own way. So, leaders in the third front shifted to either the DMK or the AIADMK. 

Now after a long time, the BJP, a national party, has definitely shown growth to the people of the State. I have to admit, after touring 33 Lok Sabha constituencies, that the BJP is growing, in the State, even at the village-level. People’s minds are changing. The Opposition does not have a leader today. They are not able to talk about the Prime Ministership. Here, we talk of a person [Mr. Modi] who has proven his mettle in the last 10 years and given schemes that reached the hamlets. Youngsters, first-time voters, educated people, and higher-income groups are sure to vote for the national party. Of course, the Dravidian parties have their own influence, which Tamil Nadu has been soaked in, for years together.

In 1989, Mr. Moopanar led the Congress alone and achieved considerable success despite not being able to come to power. In the same year, the Congress went into an alliance with the AIADMK in the November Lok Sabha election. Do you think the Congress prioritises the Lok Sabha election over the interests of the State unit and the State Assembly election? Do you think that the BJP is different on the score? Because it’s decided to go it alone in lots of elections without looking for a major Dravidian ally…

What you said is right. Most of the time, the interests of the Congress party was to fight and win seats for the Delhi government [Central government]. But there is a shift in the approach of the BJP. A classic example is this election, where they decided to it go alone [without aligning with Dravidian parties] and test themselves on the ground with alliance partners, who have confidence in them.

Considering your admiration for the BJP and Mr. Modi, have you ever thought of joining the party?

My support for the BJP is based on facts and the work which they have done. I have my own party and I have run it for the past 10 years. I find no reason to merge my party with the BJP. The TMC(M) has a presence in all the districts, either thick or thin. I have continued to run my party for the past 10 years as a visible party, even after losing elections continuously owing to various factors. The party has its own future in the State. As the party president, I have to utilise it for the growth of my party and the National Democratic Alliance. Why not look forward for a change after 55 years?

In 1999, when Mr. Karunandhi decided to join the NDA, your father Moopanar did not follow suit. Till the end, he opposed the BJP. Was it a difficult decision for you to align with the BJP? 

In the past 24 years, India has changed. The strength of the Congress party has changed over the years — from 1999 to 2024. What was the mood of the people and the leadership of the party at that time and what the party is doing now matters. More than that, whatever I say has been reflected by the voters, not only in the Lok Sabha election but also in the State election today, which means I have taken the right decision.

At a time when several countries are campaigning for the abolition of capital punishment, your party has supported capital punishment for sexual offences against women and children in its poll promise. Why is it so?

I stand my ground quite strongly on that as the most cruel offence committed in the country is sexual abuse. Self-discipline has to be maintained for the growth of the nation and capital punishment is a must to ensure that. The development and safety of the nation is very important.

How many seats will the NDA win in Tamil Nadu?

I personally feel that we will mark the beginning by winning a comfortable number of seats. I am sure we will be able to compete with a percentage that was not thought of. 

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