Exclusive Tamil Nadu

Election Commission colluded with AIADMK, says Karunanidhi

The AIADMK will find it tough to hold on to its MLAs, says the DMK chief.

In the run-up to the Assembly elections, DMK president M. Karunanidhi appeared confident that he would become Chief Minister for a sixth time. But the AIADMK scored a dramatic victory. Reflecting on the elections, in an exclusive interview with The Hindu , the nonagenarian warhorse accuses the Election Commission of “aligning” with the ruling party. He charges the EC with not acting on the DMK’s memorandums seeking elimination of duplicate voters in many constituencies.Nonetheless, he feels it would be a tightrope walk for the AIADMK to hold on to its legislators.

Excerpts from the interview:

Most opinion polls had indicated a victory for the DMK. But it lost the election. What do you think are the reasons for your defeat?

Ever since the election process started, the State witnessed the Election Commission functioning in a partial manner and entering into an alliance with the ruling party. How many times could the DMK submit memorandums to the Election Commission? Was there any day that passed without news of money distribution (to voters)? There were so many complaints against the Ministers. There were reports about Ministers being chased away from entering their constituencies.

How did they win in those constituencies? What is the issue pertaining to Karur Anbunathan, who is close to three Ministers? How were certain scandals covered up? Why did the Centre announce that the Rs. 570 crore seized in Tirupur belonged to a bank? What happened to these incidents that are in violation of the rules of the Income Tax Department and Enforcement Directorate? The Election Commission seized Rs. 100 crore in Tamil Nadu, which is unprecedented in the country. What action has been taken?

A few media organisations became trumpeters of the ruling party. Despite all these, the DMK secured these many votes. Tell me, if there is a better way to poll more votes? I am ready to accept. How many times did we represent to the Election Commission on the presence of duplicate voters? Even in my Tiruvarur constituency we found 11,036 duplicate voters. Similar cases were found in Avadi, Kolathur, Tiruporur, Palacode, Vannur, Tirupur (South), Palladam, Udumalpet, Kunnam. The list is endless. The DMK lost in two constituencies by a margin of under 100 voters, in eight seats by less than 1,000 votes, in 21 constituencies by less than 5,000 votes and in 22 seats by less than 10,000 votes. In the 172 constituencies the DMK faced the AIADMK, we won 89 seats. Even >The Hindu >carried a report saying that ‘While DMK polled 41.05 per cent in 176 seats, the AIADMK polled 40.78 per cent in 232 seats.’ Your newspaper also >pointed out that two AIADMK candidates lost their deposit unlike the DMK which retained deposit in all seats.

As you have said the DMK had lost victory by a thin margin. The massive money power of the ruling party and the crooked functioning of the EC deprived the DMK of its victory.

After a gap of 32 years a ruling party has been reelected to power. What are the challenges before the DMK cadres who are used to change of power every five years? How are you going to face the challenges?

As far as the DMK is concerned it can face any challenge. Now the ruling party has more challenges than the DMK. Though the ruling party has been re-elected to power, the AIADMK has just 131 members (excluding MLAs of alliance parties) in the Assembly. After the death of one MLA, the number has come down to 130. This means the party has 12 members more than the numbers required for a simple majority. The AIADMK has the challenge of holding them together from wavering. It is like tightrope walking. The DMK won 23 seats in the 2011 election and could not get the status of the Opposition party. Now, the DMK alone has 89 members. We have to wait and see how the government is going to face various issues concerning the State to be raised by the DMK members. The DMK in 1971 became a ruling party with an unprecedented strength of 184 members. Now we are the Opposition with the maximum members. No one can forget the historic achievements of the DMK as a ruling party and the Opposition.

In the DMK’s executive committee meeting you called upon the members to move ahead without fear and take steps that would in no way help betrayers. Were you referring to the defeat of the party in some squabbling?

As we have understood the politics of hatred practised by the ruling party that used anti-democratic methods, including violence, intimidation and filing of false cases, I said every step of ours should be bold. I also advised them not to connive with those who betrayed the party in the past. . My udanpirappukal (partymen) understand the meaning of what I have said. It is true that internal squabbling deprived the party of its victory in a few places. Some members spoke about it in the meeting. In that way they helped the party high command identify the betrayers.

You can forgive your enemy. Can you forgive a betrayer?

The DMK polled relatively well across the State barring the western region. What is the reason for this considering that the party enjoyed the goodwill of the Kongu region in its formative years? How are you going to win back the voters there?

It is true that the DMK trailed in the west, particularly in the Kongu belt, not only in this election, but also in the previous elections. Poll predictions, however, suggested that the DMK would win more seats in this region. It is a region of heavy, medium and small industries. Power cut and the AIADMK government’s unfriendly attitude towards industry resulted in the fall of investments and industries.

Workers migrated to the neighbouring State in search of livelihood. The DMK could not win despite a positive poll prediction and it has caused the doubt whether “containers” have played a role. The high command is fully aware that it has to adopt constructive and healthy methods to win back the Kongu region.

How do you see the prospects of the DMK in Thanjavur and Aravakurichi constituencies where the elections have been postponed?

Had the elections been held as per schedule, the DMK would have won the seats. I do not think postponing the election would not affect our prospects.

There is a view that the DMK could have stormed to power if it had contested in more seats. What is your stand?

Of course, there is such a view. The DMK won 89 of the 172 seats it had contested. This corresponds to 51.74 per cent. DMK’s alliance partners contested in 60 seats and won just nine. Their vote share is 15 per cent.

I do not want to blame them. Probably, the DMK men did not fully cooperated with alliance partners.

Responding to your complaint about Mr. Stalin not being given a seat in the front row at Jayalalithaa’s swearing-in ceremony, >the Chief Minister responded saying there was no intent to show disrespect to him. She also said she was >looking to work with the DMK for the betterment of the State. Does this signal a new beginning in Tamil Nadu politics?

In an earlier swearing-in ceremony also DMK’s general secretary >K. Anbazhagan was not accorded due respect. We cannot forget that every time there is a mistake, the government offers some lame excuse.

This time, the Chief Minister has expressed her desire to work with the DMK for the benefit of the State. The DMK has never hesitated to work with anyone, if it benefits Tamil Nadu and improve the conditions of the people. History bears testimony to this.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 9:42:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/dmk-chief-karunanidhi-interview-election-commission-colluded-with-aiadmk/article8656610.ece

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