National parties often ignore regional aspirations, says AIADMK general secretary Edappadi Palaniswami

In a diverse country like ours regional parties fulfilled regional aspirations, the former Chief Minister said during an interview with The Hindu

March 29, 2024 08:37 pm | Updated March 30, 2024 06:23 pm IST - Chennai

AIADMK general secretary and former Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami during an interview in Chennai on March 29, 2024.

AIADMK general secretary and former Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami during an interview in Chennai on March 29, 2024. | Photo Credit: Akhila Easwaran

Criticising national parties for “ignoring” regional aspirations “many times”, AIADMK general secretary and Leader of the Opposition Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Friday said that regional parties, such as his own, were better equipped to represent the people and expedite development initiatives in the States.

In an interview to The Hindu at his official residence, Sevanthi, on Greenways Salai in Chennai, Mr. Palaniswami, who took time off his busy Lok Sabha election campaign schedule, said that “In a country such as ours with much diversity”, regional parties fulfilled the regional aspirations.

Sometimes, this made national parties less relevant in some States. “There is no necessity that a national party has to rule every State to bring about development in the country,” the former Chief Minister said.

In a parliamentary democracy, there was no need to identify the Prime Minister before the election. Today, many parties were contesting in the election with no prime ministerial candidate. After the election, the prime ministerial candidate might emerge, depending upon the relative strength of political parties in Parliament, he said. “We will play an appropriate role in determining the Prime Minister who is concerned about Tamil Nadu and who listens to the genuine demands of our State,” he said, answering a question whether people of the State would accept a front that did not project anyone as the prime ministerial candidate and did not have any national party. He added that principal political players in West Bengal, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, too, were not promoting anyone for the post of Prime Minister.

Watch | AIADMK leader Edappadi K. Palaniswami: Quit NDA to address needs of T.N. people

Asked whether his party would not require the support of a national party as it promised several measures to boost the revenue of the States, Mr. Palaniswami replied, “We feel a revisit to the Central fiscal policy is the need of the hour, especially after the introduction of the GST [Goods and Services Tax] as the States’ own resources are dwindling. If the idea is acceptable [to many], we will press in Parliament for such a course of action. Further, it is not necessary that one should be part of the government to bring about such policies. We can be a rallying point among like-minded parties to mobilise support and press for the implementation of many of our proposals.”

On the circumstances that led to the AIADMK’s separation from the BJP and exit from the National Democratic Alliance, Mr. Palaniswami acknowledged that on matters concerning the State, “we were not able to function independently while in the alliance”. It was the people of the State who “elect us” and “it is our primary job to resolve their problems”. Apart from the BJP State leadership “denigrating” AIADMK founder M.G. Ramachandran and former Chief Ministers C.N. Annadurai and Jayalalithaa, the State was “being neglected at the national level”, he pointed out.

When asked about the DMK alliance being stronger, he said, “It is an illusion to say that the DMK alliance looks stronger. The ground realities are different. The fight is tough as the ruling party will use money and muscle power, but we will emerge victorious with the support of the people. There is a considerable amount of anti-incumbency against both the Central and State governments, and I feel that people will largely vote for our alliance.”

On the opinion polls suggesting a big win for the BJP-led NDA, Mr. Palaniswami said, “Opinion polls are manipulated and fabricated. We ignore such polls but work with confidence at the field level to ensure the victory of our candidates.”

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