'The financial situation of Tamil Nadu is much worse than it was in 2016.'
'The finance minister's is a horrendous job.'
'I am certainly not going to ask for it.'
Among the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MLAs whose fate will be decided in Tuesday's assembly election from Tamil Nadu is Palanivel Thiagarajan, who is contesting the poll from Madurai Central for the second time.
Thiagarajan is to the manner born -- both his grandfather P T Rajan and father P T R Palanivel Rajan are well known political leaders -- yet, he took up a different career, as a banker, before yielding to the voice within to return.
A BTech, MS, PhD and an MBA, the last three qualifications from American universities, Thiagarajan must easily be the most educated lawmaker in the country. However, he wears his scholarship, as well as pedigree, lightly.
In a telephonic interview with A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com, Thiagarajan, widely expected to be the state's finance minister if the DMK under M K Stalin romps home, says, "This is an easier victory than last time."
The last time we spoke, on the eve of the 2016 election, you were a political debutant. Were the past five years how you expected them to be?
I would say that the last five years have been a much more beneficial and a learning experience for me than I expected.
Obviously it must have hurt to not make it to the state secretariat in 2016. But many accounts say the hot money is on the DMK this time around. Your thoughts?
I think it is a foregone conclusion. I have expressed my views on multiple forums. We will win by a greater margin this time.
Well, if it does turn out that way, full credit must go to your party chief M K Stalin, with who you share a close relationship. Last time his father M Karunanidhi was there, but this time it has been his show all the way.
All outcomes at the local level depend on the candidate, at the state level, full credit to him. It is a sign of his maturity and development that we are doing so well.
Stalin has had one of the longest apprenticeships in politics under his father. That must have rubbed off well?
I would call it experience. You cannot call a deputy chief minister an apprentice. His experience as a minister helped him a lot.
Tell us about Stalin's leadership style. You have known both the father and son, how do they differ, and how are they similar in their leadership styles?
Each has his own style. Every person has his own style. No style is superior to another. Each is unique in his own way. When you look at human nature, everyone is different.
From my corporate experience I can tell you that every CEO/MD is different.
The last time we spoke you weren't sure but now, you must be. Are we speaking to the next finance minister of Tamil Nadu?
The financial situation of Tamil Nadu is much worse than it was in 2016. From a revenue surplus state we have gone to a revenue deficit state. This is before coronavirus. Covid has made it worse.
It is a horrendous job. I am certainly not going to ask for it.
How has different has the response of people to you been this time as compared to 2016?
Last time I was not sure about the response. I did not know my party workers properly; I did not know the boundaries of my constituency. I had to learn. You know I refused to bribe voters.
I want to follow my forefathers. I want to serve the people. In the 2019 parliamentary elections, my MLA constituency had the highest contribution and the highest victory margin. That time too we did not bribe voters.
I have looked after my constituency Madurai Central well. As there were no local elections I had to deal with the municipal corporation work too.
At the macro-level there is anti-incumbency. In Madurai we have won twice (assembly and parliamentary), so we will increase our victory margin.
This is an easier victory than last time. This time we will win 7-8 of the 10 assembly seats in Madurai. We might even win all 10.