Tamil Nadu

AIADMK may not win next election but it will not disappear: Thirunavukkarasar

Congress MP Thirunavukkarasar during an interview with <i>The Hindu</i> in Chennai on Wednesday. Photo: K. Pichumani

Congress MP Thirunavukkarasar during an interview with The Hindu in Chennai on Wednesday. Photo: K. Pichumani  

Tiruchi MP and former TNCC chief, Su. Thirunavukkarasar, who will turn 71 on July 13, cut his political teeth on the AIADMK under its founder M.G. Ramachandran (MGR). In an interview with The Hindu at his residence in Anna Nagar, he strongly feels that though the ruling party does not have chances of victory in the Assembly elections due for next year, it will not get destroyed, as it has its network in nook and corner of the State. Excerpts:

In your four-decade-long political career, you spent over 20 years in the AIADMK till May 1997 [when he was last expelled]. How do you see the future of the party?

The AIADMK of the MGR era or the Jayalalithaa period was different from now. At present, it does not have a mass leader. Nor does it have an established leader who is acceptable to the entire rank and file of the party and the common man. After Jayalalithaa’s death, the party has become weak and its vote share has got eroded. Even though a party’s life does not end with its leader, it is a fact that the AIADMK does not have a strong leader now. All those MLAs who are supporting [Chief Minister] Edappadi K. Palaniswami are not his choices. They had all won the last election as Jayalalithaa’s nominees.

Only after eight or nine months will we see how successful he is. Even then, I don’t think the party has got chances of victory. One has to wait and see whether it will get even the status of the principal Opposition party in the Assembly or at least that of one having considerable number of MLAs. The party’s future depends on its performance in the Assembly poll and the quality of leadership it gets thereafter. It is my assessment that the party will not get destroyed. It will remain there in the field as it has cadres and office bearers all over the State but the level of its strength will be decided by the Assembly election results.

In the event of release of V.K.Sasikala [Jayalalithaa’s aide and former interim general secretary of the AIADMK] from Bengaluru jail, will her return to the AIADMK or active politics cause any impact?

I do not think it can make any impact. It is doubtful whether Sasikala will be taken back to the AIADMK as such a move will only weaken the position of [Mr] Edappadi [Palaniswami]. Even assuming that she runs her own political party, she has nothing much to claim about her track record in public life. Jayalalithaa had never given any position in the party to Sasikala. Even during the last Assembly election, when Jayalalithaa was not doing well health wise, she did not assign any election campaign work to Sasikala. Even if Sasikala starts a party, this can only marginally disturb the prospects of the AIADMK at the time of Assembly elections.

With Assembly elections due in next 10 months, do you think the present alignment of political parties will continue?

I think the DMK-Congress alliance will continue. It is my desire that it should continue, as this will benefit us mutually. The forthcoming poll is going to be very important one, as far as Tamil Nadu is concerned. For the first time, [DMK chief] M.K.Stalin and Edappadi are going to see the Assembly elections on their own. Unlike in the Lok Sabha polls when the State had anti-Modi/BJP, pro-Rahul/Congress wave, there is no such factor at work now. Of all the parties in the State, the DMK is the strongest as it has not suffered any split. If the DMK-Congress alliance continues, it will achieve a resounding success.

Would Rajinikanth come to politics? Would his presence in politics make any difference?

More than 30 or 35 years, he has been my friend. As a film artist, he has got a big fan following and mass personality. In the 1996 Assembly election, his observations against Jayalalithaa made a huge difference to the outcome of the poll. Since then, he has been airing his political views. Even though he said a few years ago that he would start a party of his own, he has not yet launched the party. When eight or nine months are only left for the Assembly election, there are certain questions whether it is a sufficient period for a party to be launched and run and whether such a party can face the polls on its own. Even MGR could capture power five years after he had formed his party in 1972. But, as far as Rajinikanth is concerned, what is a bigger question than all these is whether he will start a party or not. Having said, let me also say that it is not up to me but him to clarify whether he will start a party or not.

It is more than 10 years since you joined the Congress. Has not the party grown weaker than what it was a decade ago? What should be done to improve its position?

I feel that the party, of late, is on the rising trend, as it has come to power in States such as Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. In Madhya Pradesh, we lost power recently due to the numbers game.

Rahul Gandhi should become the party chief again which is the view prevailing among the people and cadres of the party, considering that the predominant section of the country’s population is below 35 years. Then, the party will pick up momentum further and emerge victoriously in the next [Lok Sabha] elections. I should also add here that only after Sonia Gandhi assumed the leadership of the party in 1998, the Congress captured power in many States and at the Centre where it remained in power for 10 years.

Is Aranthangi no longer your bastion, given the facts that you had lost in 2011 and your son in 2016?

I do not think so. I have my own vote bank. The party and its leadership also matter when it comes to electoral success. In 1977, in Pudukottai district, I was the only AIADMK candidate to win and that was in Aranthangi. I kept on winning from there for six times. And, my nominees [won] twice. In 2011 Assembly polls, the defeat was shocking to me. At that time, there was pro-AIADMK wave. Another reason was that I was not able to maintain my touch with the constituency when I was Rajya Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh during 2004-2009. In the last Assembly elections when Jayalalithaa was Chief Minister, my son [T. Ramachandran] lost by 2,000 and odd votes. In the last two Assembly elections, money power had become a major factor. Yet, my son has been in constant touch with the constituency and taking part in various events there.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 9:12:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/aiadmk-may-not-win-next-elections-but-it-will-not-disappear-thirunavukkarasar/article32034229.ece

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