'Freebies are not for getting votes'
In an exclusive interview with CNN-IBN, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunandhi defended himself in the 2G spectrum scam and noted that it's not a scam till it's proven in the Supreme Court.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief also exuded confidence that his party's alliance with the Congress will continue even after the assembly elections in Tamil Nadu.
In the coming Tamil Nadu elections what are the key questions the DMK is placing in front of the electorate?
Do you all believe in the DMK's successful governance since 1967 or not? Have you understood that we are trustworthy or not? Have we fulfilled all our promises and all the schemes we announced or not? Do you feel the effort, care and determination we put in to fulfill these promises? Do you realise that we are a government, which worked for the poor people and downtrodden people of Tamil Nadu? These are the questions I would like to pose to the voters.
In 2006, you had announced free colour television sets.. This time you have promised the voter several freebies including laptops and grinders. Has the promise of freebies become the only criterion determining victory and defeat in elections in Tamil Nadu?
Freebies are not for getting votes...there are a lot of poor and downtrodden people in Tamil Nadu and to make them live happily has been DMK's aim not just today, but the whole movement was started only with the aim of providing a better life for the poor.
"We should find god in poor people's smile," was our leader Annadurai's motto, and to see that smile, we have taken several steps. These freebies are just one of those several steps.
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Image: Tamil Nadu CM M Karunanidhi
Photographs: Rediff archives
'No difference in fundamental ideologies of Cong-DMK'
Before the elections, when you were holding talks with the Congress party, there were differences between the two parties. You had even gone to the extent of announcing outside support to the UPA and then backtracked. Do you believe that even after the elections, the Congress-DMK alliance will last?
Even if not at national level, both the parties realise that at all India level, the Congress party and in the south in Tamil Nadu, the DMK are both individually big parties, therefore, we have our own goals and ambition.
And to achieve them we need the help of the Central government. For example to make Tamil a classical language, we had made plans several years ago and Periyar had started raising his voice. But most of the governments at the Centre remained quiet about it.
At that time, it was only (Congress chief) Sonia Gandhi who came forward, and tried on her own and along with the help of late Arjun Singh, got the status of 'classical language' for Tamil. Therefore, if there are differences between the Central government and us, that could be in our ideologies, or because of our demands for more sanctions for our schemes. But we do not differ in fundamental ideologies such as stopping communalism and propagating social equality among Indians.
DMK is contesting only in 121 constituencies this time, which is the lowest it has contested in many decades. Is this an indication that even if the DMK wins these elections, only a coalition government will be formed after elections?
Political changes like whether one party will rule or will a coalition be formed can be told only after the elections are over. Even in West Bengal the Left is the biggest party, which is the ruling party also, but they still form alliances even before the results are announced, that includes the Communist Party of India and the CPI-Marxist.
Tthese parties are accepted after the elections. In the same way, I believe the people will accept the DMK as a single party rule. I hope they would want single party rule to continue in the state. But if by any chance, voting pattern changes, and there is a compulsion that a government can be formed only through a coalition, I'll discuss with the other parties and take a decision.
Image: Karunanidhi greets Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in a function at Chennai
'Stalin has grown up without any question marks'
This is the 12th time you are contesting an election. Can there be question mark over the view that your son and Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin is your political successor?
Stalin has grown up without any question marks. I came into politics and under Arignar Anna I assumed important positions in the party, then I got selected by Anna to become the treasurer of the party and I lived up to his trust and affection without any change in the level of trust and love.
Under my leadership MK Stalin is carrying out his duties in the same way, and all the party cadres and the important leaders who trust me, also trust Stalin as much. There is no justification for raising a question mark over their trust in Stalin.
Will everyone in the party accept Stalin as the next leader?
This is a democratic party. For all those who are asking who's the next leader, I would like to say the DMK is a democratic party. This is not a party where I just name one person and say he will succeed me.
This is not a mutt run by seers, for example, like Sankaracharya named his successor himself and the entire religion accepted and followed it...but this is not a religious mutt like that. This is a democratic party, just like people elect their leaders, the party cadre and the senior leaders will collectively select a person they feel is capable enough to handle this position.
You are being accused of perpetrating family politics. How would you respond?
The problem is that I have a family. Whoever talks about my family should see whether they have a family or not. Family means a man and woman getting married and having children and making a family.
But there are also people who call those who have been with them for very long as family. I don't have a family like that. I belong to a proper honest family.
Image: M K Stalin
Photographs: Rediff archives
'Karunanidhi does not own Kalaignar TV'
Your daughter Kanimozhi and wife Dayalu Ammal have been questioned in relation to the Spectrum scam. Kalaignar TV's management and finances are also being probed. The allegation now is that this scam couldn't have taken place without your knowledge...What is your response?
This is not a scam at all. We have clearly explained in our paper before. Kalaignar TV has my name but I hold no stake in it.
My daughter Kanimozhi has 20 per cent stake, wife Dayalu has 60 per cent stake and Sharad has 20 per cent stake. They are all partners.
Karunanidhi does not own Kalaignar TV. Just that two of his family members are shareholders in the channel, that's all!
When these accusations were made Sharad Kumar had clearly explained the channel's position and it was published in all newspapers. They had taken a loan from somewhere which they repaid along with interest and even have Income Tax papers to show for the money. After this, I don't understand how it can be called a scam.
Image: Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi
Photographs: Rediff archives
'Some parties spreading rumours against me'
Has the DMK's image been damaged because of this?
When you keep adding zeroes and say this is how big the scam is...I can only remember an old saying -- The priest used to say that there are 20 miles between two teeth. Another priest listening to this would say yes and the people would nod their heads. No one would think if this is true how big the mouth would be and this how the priests would fool the innocent people.
Similarly some political parties are spreading rumours and that is the truth!
I'm not ready to say anything on that scam because the case is in Supreme Court at the moment. Whether its a scam or not is for Supreme Court to decide, therefore I don't want to interfere in that.
To answer about Kalaignar TV, I have nothing to do with it and I am no director of the channel. A channel was launched using my name and that channel borrowed money, but the money was repaid.
There could be cases on the person they borrowed the money from, but because of that to say that I am also involved in the scam or that the money we borrowed itself is corrupt money, is not right.
All that will be known only after a long and proper investigation. And when that is known, it will be clear that we are innocent and have done no wrong.
Image: Oppn AIADMK chief Jayalalitha