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September 3, 1999


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The Rediff Election Interview/ Tamaraikani

'Jayalalitha removed her slipper and showed it to me'

The voice on the phone was firm. "Yes! You can speak to me any day after 11 pm." Thanks to the 10 pm deadline for canvassing, Tamaraikani, the AIADMK MLA who rebelled against party supremo J Jayalalitha last week, was home at 11 pm surrounded by his supporters, clad only in a lungi, a 10 sovereign gold chain with a huge 'MGR' medallion around his neck, another huge ring on his finger also with MGR's portrait.

A Ganesh Nadar spoke to the rebel who has confused the electoral forecasts in the Sivakasi Lok Sabha constituency which already has MDMK leader Vaiko and AIADMK candidate, former Supreme Court judge V Ramaswamy in the fray.

You have been in the AIADMK since its inception, why are you contesting this election as an Independent?

AIADMK general secretary Jayalalitha insulted me. That is the reason.

Is it because she gave the Lok Sabha ticket to an outsider and not a party loyalist?

No! Whatever the party decides, I accept.

What happened then?

An election campaign committee of 23 people was formed. I was one of them. We organise everything -- from organising meetings to getting people. My job is to approach the voter. I was doing this, when some people who don't like me instigated her against me. She abused me badly in the middle of the road.

Near the Srivilliputhur inspection bungalow she removed her slipper and showed it to me. She abused me. She called me by my caste name in a derogatory tone. She told me to join the DMK. She says there was no place in the ADMK for me as long as she was there. 'Your political life is finished.' She told Satyamurthy to get me out of the car. She used several abusive words. I was hurt badly. I was very sad and dejected.

Is that why you are contesting as an Independent?

The attitude should be of a comrade. Not a dictator. Treating me like her servant. The ADMK vote bank is MGR's. The 'two leaves' symbol is his. She think it is her vote bank. She thinks she is Queen Elizabeth and we her servants. There are two kinds of scolding. One is done with affection. The other is abusive and done with suspicion.

You have contested elections before as an Independent?

Yes, I stood independently and won the MLA election. When Karunanidhi was chief minister I was the district secretary of the ADMK. I used to organise regular meetings. The chief didn't like this. They foisted 23 false cases against me and put me inside under the Goondas Act. I approached the Supreme Court and was released. I have done so much for the party.

Amma used me all the time but when the time for elections came she ignored me. She removed me as district secretary. The people were very agitated that I who had done so much was not given a seat. So I filed my nomination independently and won.

When did you return to the party?

After five years.

Did they call you?

Yes, They called me and gave me the party ticket. This was because police, CID reports indicated that there was a public wave against the ADMK. All because of the Rs 100 crore marriage for Sudhakaran. Bad management of the government. Even as an Independent I supported Amma's government.

You used to beat up people to support her.

This is false propaganda. There is no evidence or proof. They just talk. Have I been convicted in court?

You were frequently violent inside the assembly.

Nothing like that.

Panruti Ramachandran -- you hit him inside the assembly.

I just asked him to sit. I gave him a loving tap on his back. Is this hitting (he hit Ganesh Nadar to demonstrate)? You can't hold me responsible for all the allegations the Opposition makes.

What about hitting Minister Veerapandi Arumugam last month?

There's a case in court. I didn't hit him. They hit me. You think this is a movie. How can I hit him? There were so many of them. Veerapandi Arumugam, Durai Murugan and other DMK MLAs hit me.

His nose was broken. You are perfectly alright.

What can I do if his small nose breaks? He must have dashed against something (his supporters laughed).

Will you win?

I will win by one and a half lakh votes.

On what do you base your numbers?

I know the people's state. I see the people. I am one of them. I talk to everybody. All the other contestants stay in Madras. I stay here.

Your son is the municipal chairman here?

Why should I give that to him? I am the chairman. I am the MLA. I am the MP.

Will you get votes within the municipal limits? People say there are various irregularities.

You must have spoken to the DMK people (his supporters laughed).

We always meet everybody. You may win here. What above the whole of Tamil Nadu?

Sonia Gandhi was insulted at Villupuram... The Congress and ADMK relations are strained. If this is the way they behave now, how will they behave in a coalition? People will wonder.

Who will win?

Ah... I don't know.

How can you not know?

How do we know the people's mind? The ADMK will get 2 seats.

Which two?

S Murugesan in Tenkasi.

He hasn't visited his constituency once in 13 months.

Even then they'll vote. In that area there is a caste frenzy. His caste will vote for him (Tenkasi is a reserved constituency)

And the other?

Er... Mostly -- Malaiswamy in Ramanathapuram.

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