interview | Chennai

‘DMK will boost industrial growth if voted to power,’ says T.R. Baalu

Former Union Minister and DMK headquarters secretary T.R. Baalu has filed his nomination papers to contest from the Sriperumbudur Parliamentary constituency. He said efforts would be made to boost industrial growth in the constituency and elsewhere. Excerpts from an interview:

You have traditionally contested from South Chennai and Sriperumbudur, but moved to Thanjavur last time. Why have you shifted back to Sriperumbudur now?

As you know, I won from Sriperumbudur in 2009. Earlier, I contested from South Chennai and represented the constituency in Parliament four times. After the delimitation of constituencies, I fought in Sriperumbudur, as half of the Assembly segments of South Chennai were brought under this constituency.

As regards the 2014 Parliamentary election, my candidature for Thanjavur was decided by the party and our leader Kalaignar (former party supremo Karunanidhi). Even now, it was the decision of my party and our leader Thalapathi (DMK president M.K. Stalin) to field me from Sriperumbudur.

What are the key issues in the Sriperumbudur constituency?

Areas falling under the Sriperumbudur Parliamentary constituency are facing several issues, which are having a direct impact on the day-to-day lives of the people due to the continued neglect of this constituency by the AIADMK government. The situation has been exacerbated by the absence of local bodies as the government has refused to conduct local body elections for the last two years, despite directions from the Madras High Court, for fear of a rout.

As far as the Parliamentary election is concerned, there are issues of general concern like the large-scale loss of jobs due to the closure of big industries like Nokia, which were established during the erstwhile DMK government. The DMK’s election manifesto has outlined the efforts that would be made by us to boost industrial growth and employment opportunities in the country, with a special focus on Tamil Nadu.

I can assure you that local issues will be addressed effectively by me, to the fullest satisfaction of the people of the constituency, if I am elected.

The DMK’s manifesto has promised to revive the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP), which was initiated when you were the Shipping Minister and stalled subsequently. Do you believe this can be implemented now?

The Sethusamudram project is a 150-year dream of Tamils. Even late AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa included it in her party’s manifesto. But after the project was included in the Common Minimum Programme of the UPA government in 2004 and the work commenced, our political adversaries began fearing that the credit would go to the DMK and kicked up all sorts of controversies. The project has remained suspended for over 11 years due to a stay issued by the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, we are confident that with a change of regime at the Centre, the project will be revived.

As substantial work has been completed, I believe it will be possible to complete the project in the next five years.

Is there no better alternative to the SSCP?

All possible alternatives were analysed in-depth on several occasions through expert committees before the project was initiated. The government approved the project only after due statutory process of impact assessment was carried out meticulously and independently, and recommendations made by the appropriate authorities.

How does it feel to face an election without Karunanidhi?

Though Kalaignar may not be physically present with us today, he continues to be with us in all our thoughts and actions, because we have been brought up and well-trained in politics by him. We are facing the election, placing Kalaignar’s achievements at the forefront.

Further, our leader Thalapathi has categorically stated that we should work as if Kalaignar is the candidate in all the constituencies. The vacuum left behind by Kalaignar has been filled by our able leader Thalapathi.

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Printable version | May 3, 2021 6:05:49 AM |

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