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'Hindu pride doesn't work in Tamil Nadu'

May 28, 2019 10:53 IST

'"Pakistan will come and bite you doesn't work here".'

IMAGE: Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President M K Stalin greeted with a traditional aarti during his election campaign in the temple town of Thiruparankundram in Madurai district, Tamil Nadu. Photograph: DMK/Twitter

In the Lok Sabha election, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led front won 38 of the 39 parliamentary seats in Tamil Nadu. The DMK won an impressive 23 seats itself.

And in assembly by-elections to 22 seats held simultaneously, it won 13. Not enough to topple the state government, but enough to send shockwaves in the ruling All India Anna DMK-led front.

How did the southern state, where the Bharatiya Janata Party hoped to make deep inroads, resist the saffron foray, and turn back the pro-Narendra Modi wave?

"Our MPs are veterans of Delhi politics. They will be a beacon of hope for the entire country," DMK Spokesperson Saravanan Annadurai, below, tells Rediff.com's A Ganesh Nadar.

How did your alliance demolish the AIADMK front?

This is a massive victory, it is our biggest mandate after 2004. The full credit for this goes to M K Stalin, our president. His tireless campaigning and also his embracing of our allies worked in our favor.

What factors led to the sweep?

We started our work long ago. The gram sabha meetings that Stalin held all over the state helped him connect with the people. He also had regular review meetings with our party cadres who told him about the people's issues in their area. We appointed our people for specific work. Everyone was focused.

 

How was the campaign planned?

We are veterans in campaigning. Stalin always organised with an eye on the elections. He worked very hard and for very long. The gram sabha meetings started when the elections were not even in sight.

(His son) Udayanidhi Stalin also campaigned. There was support for him too as he is already a popular film star.

Basically, we seized the narrative long ago.

What did the AIADMK/BJP do wrong in the state?

Anti-incumbency against both the state and central governments went against them. The people of Tamil Nadu were upset with both.

Moreover, Hindu pride doesn't work in Tamil Nadu.

The people here are devout Hindus, but they don't bring it into politics. Here religion is for your personal life.

Can the BJP hope to come up in Tamil Nadu like it did in Bengal?

Here, it is not possible at all. Tamil Nadu's people will consider you only if you come with a credible ideology.

'Pakistan will come and bite you' doesn't work here.

The same voters who helped you sweep the Lok Sabha polls did not do the same in the assembly bye-elections. Why?

They spent a lot of money in the assembly elections, which helped them. But you must see that even there we won the majority of seats -- 13 out of 22.

Do you think it was a mistake for the AIADMK to ally with the BJP?

Yes, it was a mistake. If they had stood on their own, they would have won two or three seats more.

What do you plan to do in Parliament where the BJP has a brute majority?

We have seen the Emergency and fought it. Our MPs are veterans of Delhi politics. They will navigate the troubled waters easily. They will be a beacon of hope for the entire country.

A GANESH NADAR