INTERVIEW | Ezhilan Naganathan Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections | A campaign rooted in Dravidian ethos

Ezhilan Naganathan, the DMK candidate for the Thousand Lights constituency, is focusing on door-to-door meetings with voters, discussing civic issues, in compliance with the COVID-19 protocols, ahead of the crucial contest with the main rival — Khushbu of the BJP. In an interview, Dr. Ezhilan says the voters in the State will support secularism and reject the policies of the Central government.

What are the key aspects of your campaign in Thousand Lights?

My strategy is to meet at least two lakh voters. I am doing door-to-door meetings with members of all socio-economic strata. I am able to understand the socio- economic conditions of the people and discuss civic issues with them.

I have framed a ward-wise manifesto for the constituency, identifying issues caused by the absence of people's representatives in local bodies.

You have been criticised on social media for your views on your party’s ideology. What kind of reception do you get from residents while expressing similar views during the campaign?

The Thousand Lights constituency has a very good platform of secularism. All residents are together, irrespective of caste or religion. Whenever you vouch for a humanitarian approach and secular credentials, which are basically the Dravidian ethos and the ultimate goal is humanism, I don’t see any trouble or disturbance in the constituency at all. If we do people’s work, it is equivalent to any spiritual work.

Has your participation in electoral politics affected your fight in the front line against COVID-19?

Since the start of the epidemic, I have treated over 2,000 patients. I have understood that the COVID-19 management at the community level is a different approach, focusing on norms such as mask-wearing. This campaign has provided me with an opportunity to combine my medical knowledge with various socio-economic aspects of COVID-19 management.

What are the major civic issues residents have reported in the seven wards of your constituency?

Residents have demanded playgrounds and community halls in each ward. They need better school infrastructure for the poor. Provision of proper drinking water, a complete revamp of drainage pipes should be done, and garbage clearance is inadequate, leading to public health problems.

Water stagnation during the northeast monsoon is a challenge. Public health problems, including dengue, malaria and diarrhoea, have been reported.

Many traders and entrepreneurs have lost their source of livelihood during the pandemic. Residents want redevelopment of slum tenements at 16 locations, instead of resettlement far away from the city.

How do you view a direct contest with the BJP in your constituency?

The Dravidian ethos is very strong in this State. The BJP cannot carry on with the same agenda of creating religious polarisation, propaganda and creating Islamophobia in the constituency and the State.

Tamil Nadu is known for its secular values. We are always together. It is not easy to drive a wedge between communities in our State. Tamil Nadu people are intelligent and understand the designs of the BJP. People have understood that we have suffered because of the policies of the Centre, including NEET.

Your social media posts in the past few days have focused on the learning in politics from Gopalapuram, the contribution of your grandparents to the independence movement and your proximity to former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi. How have these aspects helped you contribute to electoral politics?

My great-grandfather, grandfather and grandmother spent 27 years, collectively, in prison during the independence struggle. Having been born and brought up in such a family, I was curious enough to take some vital memories from many great persons about Tamil ethnicity, social justice and federalism. Kalaignar [M. Karunanidhi] was able to educate me in all spheres.

Thanks to our leader M.K. Stalin, this is a wonderful opportunity to serve the people.


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Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 12:03:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/tamil-nadu-assembly/ezhilan-naganathan-dmk-thousand-lights/article34165059.ece

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