interview | udhayanidhi stalin Tamil Nadu

‘My performance will be the answer to my critics’

For Daily:04/04/2019:Ramanathapuram:Udayanidhi Stalin, son of DMK President M K Stalin campaigning in support of IUML Lok Sabha candidate K Navas Kani in Ramanathapuram on Thursday.Photo:L_Balachandar [with report]   | Photo Credit: L_Balachandar

The byelection to the Vellore Lok Sabha constituency has come as the first major assignment for actor-turned-politician Udhayanidhi Stalin since his appointment as the secretary of the DMK’s youth wing. He is seeking to strike a balance between politics and his film career, and has taken a break from the shooting of the film ‘Kannai Nambathey’ to campaign for DMK candidate D.M. Kathir Anand, son of party treasurer Duraimurugan.

In an interview on Tuesday — the first since his elevation as party youth wing secretary — he alleged that the AIADMK had avoided projecting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP in Vellore as they had become a burden for the ruling party in the State. Excerpts:

Your appointment as DMK youth wing secretary has drawn criticism. People say you got the post because of your father and party president M.K. Stalin…

At the outset, I did not want to take on the responsibility immediately. But the party’s district secretaries unanimously pitched for my appointment. When my father was subjected to stringent criticism even though he gradually rose through the ranks in the party organisation, I could not remain immune to it. I welcome constructive criticism. I do not want to respond to every individual remark made against me. I treat both criticism and kudos equally. My performance will be the answer to my critics.

How do you see the prospects of the DMK candidate in Vellore?

The prospects are bright. I am going from village to village instead of addressing public meetings or speaking from a campaign van, and the people, particularly women, are forthcoming. My hands have begun to ache due to repeated handshakes with them.

Does being a film star make you easily recognisable?

Almost 70% of the voters identify me easily because of my film background. This time, they do not require much of an introduction [to me] since I had already campaigned in the general election. But the older generation and the party cadre see me as the grandson of Kalaignar (late DMK leader Karunanidhi) and son of Thalapathy (Stalin).

What issues have voters raised with you?

Drinking water is the major demand wherever I go. They [voters] are aware that it was the DMK government that implemented the Cauvery combined drinking water project. They also know that the second phase of the project will be implemented only if the DMK is elected to power. They also want us to construct roads, schools and other infrastructure.

The ruling AIADMK appears to have turned its attention fully to Vellore, with Ministers visiting every nook and corner of the constituency…

The AIADMK is campaigning alone. It is clearly avoiding Prime Minister Narendra Modi and (its ally) the BJP, unlike in the general election. But people know that the BJP and the AIADMK are companions and Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami is a [political] benami of the Prime Minister. They know the BJP government is imposing the ideology of the RSS. You should keep in mind that we were able to win 13 of the 22 Assembly constituencies in the byelections. If elections to the Assembly are held tomorrow, the DMK will win and form the government. People see Thalapathy as the Chief Minister of the State.

What will be your next agenda after the Vellore election?

I have to pay attention to the membership drive of the DMK youth wing. Till a few years ago, it had 30 lakh members, and [the membership] came down subsequently. We have to enrol new members as the youth wing is synonymous with the DMK.

Will you continue your film career?

Shouldn’t I? Even now, I have taken a three-day break from the shooting of the film Kannai Nambathey by director Maran.

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 3:05:22 AM |

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