Tamil Nadu

Interview | BJP’s growth is a perception created by media: Anbumani

Anbumani Ramadoss releasing the shadow budget.

Anbumani Ramadoss releasing the shadow budget. | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

Fielding questions about the future of the PMK after its unsatisfactory performance in the urban local bodies elections, its youth wing leader Anbumani Ramadoss in an interview to The Hindu on Wednesday appeared confident that the party will emerge to be a key player in Tamil Nadu politics. He felt the BJP’s ‘growth’ in the State was a media creation. Earlier in the day, he released the party’s shadow agricultural budget for Tamil Nadu, setting aside ₹7 0,000 crore. He proposed increasing the number of procurement centres from 2,654 to 3,500 and increasing grain procurement from 39.39 lakh tonnes to 60 lakh tonnes, among other things. Excerpts

What is your assessment of the PMK’s performance in the urban local bodies elections?

The outcome of the urban local bodies elections is a victory for us... Where we didn’t have any vote earlier, we have (polled) votes now. We are a rural party. In the last Assembly election and the rural local bodies elections, we had our own share of votes and a respectable victory. In the local bodies elections, people tend to vote for the ruling party. This has been the trend right from 1996 [in 2019, the DMK outperformed the then ruling AIADMK in the rural civic polls]. And in this local bodies elections, money was the only factor. Thousands of crores of rupee was splurged by the DMK and the AIADMK. The ruling party also coerced a lot of candidates into withdrawing their nominations. Our candidates couldn’t compete with the money and muscle power of the ruling party. Yet, we have won seats in corporations and town panchayats.

Do you consider PMK a natural ally of the BJP, despite the broad ideological differences on major issues?

For us, alliance is different and the rights of people are different. We have opposed a number of the BJP government’s schemes. And we have opposed the AIADMK and the DMK too when they went against the people. We are not bothered about alliances and who is ruling. Also, we were [mainly] allied with the AIADMK and they were allied with the BJP.

In hindsight, did you think it was right to walk out of the AIADMK-led alliance?

Had we contested together, we would have won 40% of the seats and the DMK-led alliance would have won 60%. Earlier, we had some differences with the AIADMK in the rural local bodies elections. Say, if there are 24 seats in a union, we were given 4 seats. However, in those 4 seats, rebel AIADMK candidates defeated us. We see this as the next step forward... 55 years [of Dravidian party rule] is a long time and people are desperate for the change for the last 15-20 years.

What are the PMK’s plans to position itself as the alternative to the two Dravidian parties?

There are a lot of issues for which people are looking for a solution. The DMK gave a lot of assurances before the [Assembly] election — such as monthly electricity bills, which will reduce the tariff by 40% and immediate abolition of NEET. They have to keep their promises. Right now, we are restructuring the party — we have appointed close to 120 district secretaries after abolishing the posts of State deputy secretary. You will see our resurgence...

Is anti-Dravidian political space in Tamil Nadu increasingly being occupied by the BJP?

This is a perception being created by the media. The BJP has won 80% of seats in Kanniyakumari district which has just 14 lakh voters and another 10% in Tenkasi district.

Do you think the 10.5% internal reservation for the Vanniyars has resonated with voters?

The 10.5% reservation has nothing to do with the local bodies elections, which are fought on local issues. Having said that, the reservation for the Vanniyars is not just a caste or community issue but an issue of social justice. The Madras High Court’s order doing away with the 10.5% reservation will have repercussions for the 69% quota. There are so many commissions — the Sattanathan commission, the Ambasankar commission, the Janardhanan commission and the Thanikachalam commission — all of them had given their recommendation. In fact, the 20% MBC reservation was based on the Ambasankar commission. And today to say that there is no data will make the MBC reservation defunct.

What do you think about the BJP’s approach to OBC reservation over the years?

If the BJP is serious about OBCs, it must do a national caste-wise census as part of the upcoming national census. The demand for such an exercise has been there for the last 20 years. We have only the 1931 census data. The BJP is not carrying out this exercise for political reasons.


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Printable version | Jun 26, 2022 6:51:58 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/interview-bjps-growth-is-a-perception-created-by-media-anbumani/article65184339.ece