Anbumani defends alliance with AIADMK; targets media

Last Updated 25 February 2019, 10:41 IST

Struggling to justify its alliance with AIADMK, the party which was its prime target for the past few years, the Pataali Makkal Katchi (PMK) on Monday said it was forced to change its strategy of contesting alone as people did not support the party in the last few elections in Tamil Nadu.

PMK MP and senior leader Anbumani Ramadoss took pains to explain the party’s stand vis-à-vis corruption complaints submitted to Governor Banwarilal Purohit against ministers of the AIADMK government, contentious issues like exemption for NEET and the fate of the eight-lane expressway between Chennai and Salem, a project which was opposed tooth and nail by the party.

Addressing a press conference here, Anbumani Ramadoss was bombarded with questions on why his party which was brutally critical of the AIADMK Government led by Edappadi K Palaniswami and BJP Government led by Narendra Modi joined hands with both the parties and whether he stands by his corruption allegations against ministers in the Tamil Nadu cabinet.

“I was fighting against the tobacco lobby for several years, but I could enforce a ban on smoking in public places only when I became a Minister (at the Centre in UPA-1). We have several ideas for the welfare of Tamil Nadu, but to bring about a change, we need power. We will try to do whatever we wanted from inside (in an alliance) rather than being outside,” Anbumani said, explaining the rationale behind the party’s decision.

PMK, which has considerable influence among Vanniyars in northern Tamil Nadu, had last week aligned with the AIADMK for the Lok Sabha elections. The alliance was called “opportunistic” by DMK and other parties since the PMK has been one of the fiercest critics of the AIADMK government and had even filed cases against projects and sought Governor’s intervention in alleged scams.

Anbumani said his party would demand the Tamil Nadu government to scrap the Chennai-Salem eight-way express highway against which farmers are up in arms and ensure that complete prohibition is brought in the state in the next two years.

“We decided not to align with any of the Dravidian majors, but we have lost elections in the past few years. We have changed our strategy and an alliance with AIADMK, and BJP is the strategy for Lok Sabha elections. But I can’t comment now on what would be our strategy during assembly elections,” he said.

To justify the alliance, Anbumani cited the examples of arch-rivals SP and BSP aligning in Uttar Pradesh, Congress and TDP coming together in Telangana and Congress-NCP stitching together an alliance in Maharashtra.

Losing his cool every now and then, Anbumani also shot the messenger at times even questioning the media why it did not discuss or debate the PMK’s performance in the 2016 assembly elections in which it secured 5.5 per cent votes and sought to put the blame on people for the party’s decision to ally with Dravidian majors.

“We contested the 2016 assembly elections alone, we ran a spirited campaign, we had the best manifesto. People did praise our manifesto but did not vote,” Anbumani said. With journalists continuing to shoot questions on the alliance, Anbumani at one point said he was not interested in whether the media accepts the tie-up since the “people have already accepted.”

On his demand for resignation of ministers allegedly involved in corruption and whether he stands by his allegations, Anbumani said the Governor should proceed with his action if he finds evidence against any of the ministers.

To a question on the multi-crore gutkha scam, Anbumani said, “the CBI has launched its investigations. Let the CBI find evidence and if it is brought out, then I think he (Health Minister C Vijayabhaskar) should step down.”

He ended the nearly an hour-long press conference on an emotional note by saying that the DMK was firing at him from the shoulders of his brother-in-law and Congress leader M K Vishnuprasad. “I never thought Vishnuprasad would stoop to this level to target me personally. I don’t know whether he is allowing DMK to use him just for a MP seat,” Anbumani said.

(Published 25 February 2019, 09:28 IST)

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