Will continue to oppose eight-way lane: Anbumani

PMK MP and senior leader Anbumani Ramadoss

Pataali Makkal Katchi (PMK), a regional party in Tamil Nadu that has a committed vote bank of 5 per cent, vehemently criticised the functioning of the AIADMK Government for two years but joined the alliance just a month before elections. In this interview with DH’s E.T.B. Sivapriyan, PMK leader and former Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss says his party would continue to oppose the eight-way lane between Chennai and Salem despite an alliance with AIADMK and talks about the fight with DMK. Excerpts:

Q: You have been touring the entire state, including your constituency Dharmapuri, for the past few weeks. How is the AIADMK-PMK-BJP alliance being received on the ground? What is your assessment?

A: We are going to have a resounding victory this election because the people have already decided to vote for us. That is the mood of the people all around Tamil Nadu where I have gone including in my constituency Dharmapuri. They want continuity at the Centre and as well as at the state. They are happy with the functioning of the government in Tamil Nadu and I don’t see any anti-incumbency against the state government – there may be some issues against the BJP like NEET and Cauvery water sharing, but there is nothing against the state government. Our alliance in Tamil Nadu is led by AIADMK and we are working in tandem and moreover, people are happy that we have formed an alliance. All the parties that have joined our alliance have committed vote bank which is not the case with the other alliance led by the DMK.

Q: But the Opposition parties have been terming the AIADMK-PMK-BJP alliance as “opportunistic” since there is no convergence of ideologies among constituent parties. How would you respond to this criticism?

A: In politics, each party has its own ideology and policy. During elections, we all join together against a common front, but that does not mean that we leave behind our ideologies. The PMK has joined the AIADMK alliance without compromising on its politics and ideologies. We have been vehemently opposed to the eight-way lane between Chennai and Salem and I filed a case against the project before the Madras High Court which has now quashed the land acquisition proceedings. I have also filed a caveat in the Supreme Court asking it not to pass orders without hearing us even if the state government appeals against the high court verdict.  

Q: What about the contradictions that the alliance partners in your combine have?

A: What contradictions are they talking about? Vaiko, who was one of the vehement critics of DMK President M K Stalin today supports him and vows to make him the next chief minister. The VCK (Dalit party) had made some stinging criticism against the DMK and even the Left parties had not spared the DMK. But today they are all together. The Congress fights the CPI(M) in Wayanad in Kerala and both share the dais in Tamil Nadu. Is this not contradiction? The AIADMK-PMK-BJP alliance is a natural alliance and there is greater synchronisation among the alliance partners. We get to hear Stalin had asked DMK cadre not to use the flag of VCK led by Thol Thirumavalavan except in colonies where Dalits live in large numbers. Actually, the DMK alliance is practising political untouchability. If there is any contradiction, it is in the Opposition front and not in our alliance.

Q: You said your party has vehemently opposed the eight-way lane between Chennai and Salem. Will your party stick to this stand?

A: Definitely. We have already filed a caveat and just because we are in an alliance does not mean that we will compromise on our principles. We will pressurise the government not to go ahead with the project and scrap it. We have already told the government since the Vaniyambadi-Salem section of the National Highway is being widened, there will be no need for an eight-way lane between the two cities. Not just eight-way lane, we will ask the Centre not to implement Methane extraction project in Cauvery Delta region. It is better to get things done while being inside a ruling front rather than being outside.

Q: The DMK and PMK are fighting against each other in seven seats. In fact, in all the seven seats that the PMK is contesting it will face DMK candidates. How do you see this fight panning out?

A: Speeches by the DMK President does not behove of his position. He behaves like a street speaker. Stalin has been attacking myself, my leader S Ramadoss, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chief Minister personally. Not just Stalin, his son and actor Udayanidhi Stalin has also been making personal attacks against us. Stalin is very angry at the PMK for not joining the DMK front. His anger against the DMK comes out in his speeches. Literally, the fight is between the DMK and PMK. We are prepared for the fight and we will emerge victorious.

Q: The PMK was one of the vociferous critics of the AIADMK Government led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami but has now partnered with the same party. Has the bonhomie displayed between the leaders trickled down to the ground?

A: We have had issues in the past and every political party has. The cadre of AIADMK and PMK gel with each other. The AIADMK-PMK alliance is natural and has worked on the ground earlier as well. We had aligned with both DMK and AIADMK, but the one with the latter is natural. The alliance with DMK would be of high-handed approach and autocratic behaviour by the DMK. Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav fought against each other for long but they have joined together for a common cause. The same logic can be applied here as well.

Q: How do you see Modi’s performance as Prime Minister? What will be your advice to him if Modi wins a second term?

A: We would want the Centre to give more rights to the state and respect the federal structure. We want education to be made state subject instead of being in concurrent list and also want the Centre to focus on agriculture and water management. As an ally, we will give our inputs to him.

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Will continue to oppose eight-way lane: Anbumani

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