We are seeking votes for the development of U.T., says Namassivayam

Home Minister and BJP candidate A. Namassivayam talks to Rajesh B. Nair about why he was reluctant to contest in the election, on what premise is he confident of obtaining Statehood status for the U.T., his defence to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin’s criticism over him shifting parties and his response to Chief Minister N. Rangasamy’s promise of a Ministerial berth at the Centre

Updated - April 14, 2024 10:07 am IST

Published - April 13, 2024 11:13 pm IST - PUDUCHERRY

BJP candidate A. Namassivayam says they are confident of getting Statehood status for Puducherry at the appropriate time.

BJP candidate A. Namassivayam says they are confident of getting Statehood status for Puducherry at the appropriate time. | Photo Credit: S.S. KUMAR

Home Minister and BJP candidate A. Namassivayam who is pitted against sitting MP and Congress candidate V. Vaithilingam, talks to The Hindu on candidate selection process, Statehood issue and criticism against him by Opposition leaders.

There was a huge suspense leading up to your candidature. There were reports that you were reluctant to contest. Could you give us insights into the candidate selection process?

I was confined to local politics for a long time. When I joined the BJP, my supporters also followed me. I thought moving to national politics will leave me with fewer chances to interact with supporters, leading to losing grip on U.T. politics. But once the party took a decision, I followed the direction to contest in the election.

Did Chief Minister N. Rangasamy have a say in the selection of the candidate. Was he consulted?

Yes. Mr. Rangasamy is the leader of NDA in Puducherry and his views matter. Along with my candidature, several others were considered. Mr. Rangasamy did not specify any name but suggested that the BJP leadership consider a familiar face and one who is acceptable to all. 

Your party is under attack from the INDIA bloc on Statehood issue. Mr. Rangasamy says he is confident about convincing Prime Minister on Statehood. Do you think voters will trust the BJP any further on Statehood demand?

The Congress and the DMK have no moral right to question us as both those parties did nothing to obtain Statehood while in power at the Centre and in Puducherry. Former Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy was holding a very important charge in the PMO during the second term of the UPA government. He didn’t do anything for obtaining Statehood. The criticism against us is based on a statement by Union Minister of State for Home that there was no proposal for Statehood pending with the Centre and so the status will remain. The Centre has never said we will not give Statehood at any cost in the future.

In fact, we (BJP) had very constructive discussions with the party leadership on the issue. Last year, we voted for the first time in favour of Statehood when a private member resolution was moved in the Assembly on the subject. We have to take a concrete proposal to the Centre considering all aspects, including negative and positive points of getting Statehood for Puducherry. We are confident of getting the status at the appropriate time.

Mr. Narayanasamy has raised corruption charges against you and even questioned the veracity of the affidavit filed along with nomination. Your response?

If he is so sure about the corruption, he should provide evidence, approach court or agencies. He has not responded to my challenge. Mr. Narayanasamy has been a Central Minister and Chief Minister. I can also say he has amassed huge wealth without giving any evidence. He is jealous about my political growth in the Union Territory. As a Minister, I followed all rules and procedures.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. K Stalin has criticised you for shifting parties. Also, do you think propriety demands politicians stick to a particular ideology and party. Your response.

Mr. Stalin is a very senior leader. If he thinks shifting parties is wrong in politics, why did he take V. Senthilbalaji from the AIADMK and made him a Minister. If the culture is wrong, he shouldn’t have accepted Mr. Balaji.

I was in Congress for a long time and it was under my tenure as the PCC president that the party came to power in 2016. Mr. Narayanasamy did not contest the poll and throughout the campaign for the Assembly poll, he sought votes to make me the CM. The AICC was also aware of this.

But after the election, Mr. Narayanasamy came through the backdoor and became the Chief Minister. Let people decide whether what the Congress did to me was right or wrong. 

But you were made a Minister with important portfolios..

For what, being a Minister and doing nothing? Mr. Narayanasamy did not fight with the then Lieutenant Governor (Kiran Bedi) till his byelection. After that, he engaged in a war of words with the Lt. Governor leading to complete administrative paralysis. We advised him not to engage in a day-to-day fight with her. Nothing was happening in the government, and I couldn’t do anything for the people, even in my constituency. What is the use of continuing in that party without being able to do anything for the people?

Now, my decision to join a party which is ruling at the Centre proved to be right. Even issues pending for several years, such as permission to utilise 750 acres of land for industrial purpose, selling AFT land to clear liabilities, direct recruitment in government jobs and service matters of employees, could be solved in last three years. We are asking people to vote for us because we laid the roads which Congress could not do. We gave around 2,000 youth jobs in government departments. We are asking votes for the development of the Union Territory.

On Mr. Rangasamy’s promise during campaigns of a Ministerial berth for you at the Centre. Your response?

It is the prerogative of the Prime Minister. The Chief Minister believes a Ministerial position at the Centre would help hasten development activities in the Union Territory. He must have taken it up with the Central leadership. But one thing is clear, in the BJP, the party leadership recognises the hard work of karyakarthas.

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