'Our party cadre does not want her in the party.'
The Tamil Nadu assembly election due this summer has already pushed up political temperatures in the southern state.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President M K Stalin has launched his election campaign and plans to cover all 234 assembly constituencies in the next month.
The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which has for the first time entered into an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party for the assembly election, is yet to finalise the seat-sharing deal with the ruling party at the Centre.
While it is caught in backroom negotiations on the issue, the release of V K Sasikala, the late AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa's confidante, from a Bengaluru prison last week, can only come as bad news for the AIADMK.
While Sasikala stands expelled from the party, her future decisions -- including if she will attempt a takeover of the party -- can only keep the AIADMK in suspense.
Poohpooing such possibilities is Dr Jayavardhan Jayakumar, a former Lok Sabha MP (2014-2019) from Chennai. A joint secretary in the Amma Peravai, an AIADMK party forum, his father D Jayakumar is a minister in the Edappadi K Palaniswami government.
Speaking to A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com, Dr Jayakumar says, "Our alliance with the BJP is a people centric alliance to get central projects for Tamil Nadu."
What impact will Sasikala's return have on your party?
The party general body has taken a decision on Sasikala and her nephew T T V Dinakaran. A resolution was taken to exclude them from the party. The party has been functioning for four years without their interference.
Her arrival in Tamil Nadu will have no impact on the party. Our party cadre does not want her in the party. Our chief minister has also said that she has nothing to do with our party.
She has her own party, the Amma Makkal Munnetra Katchi.
How do you think the assembly election in Tamil Nadu will pan out in the absence of both Jayalalithaa and (the late DMK supremo Muthuvel) Karunanidhi?
The AIADMK government is run by our honourable Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami and honourable Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam. We stand among the best governed states in the country.
Our chief minister has brought in Rs 59,000 crore (Rs 590 billion) of private investment into the state. When they start construction a lots of jobs will be generated and when completed they will provide permanent jobs for many more.
During the pandemic a lot of migrants were here. We provided three meals a day and also provided them a place to stay. We understand people's issues. We have learnt from Jayalalithaa ahow to govern. Our government is good.
With regards to elections, people will vote for us because we have governed well. How to face an election and win was also taught to us by Amma. Our work gives us confidence.
How important do you think will be the role of allies in the election?
With regard to allies, that will be decided by our leaders. We have to make sure that the DMK doesn't come to power. They have a family-centric party. They were dominating the film industry. They were involved in land grabbing. We got the land back for the people.
To make sure that people don't suffer, we have to make sure that they don't come to power.
In the Lok Sabha elections of 2019 the DMK won 38/39 seats in Tamil Nadu. Do you think the situation will be different when the assembly election will be conducted?
Eight months after the Lok Sabha election, I had gone to Namakkal district for the local body polls. I was the election in charge there. We won all the seats.
People were misguided by false promises during the Lok Sabha polls. They were told that jewelry loans will be waived, agriculture loans will be waived. That did not happen. People realised that they were false promises in nine months.
We also won the by-elections in Nanguneri and Vikravandi. People reposed their faith in the AIADMK government and that will continue in the assembly election.
Do you think your alliance with the BJP has any benefits?
As an alliance partner the AIADMK/BJP we wanted certain projects like the Cauvery-Gundar and also inter-state projects. It is a people centric alliance to get central projects for Tamil Nadu.
Many people believe that an alliance with the BJP will cost you the minority votes and also the votes of moderate citizens. What is your opinion?
Our party has done many welfare schemes and also protects the rights of minorities. Irrespective of who our allies are, we will always protect the interests and rights of the minorities.
It is the DMK that considers the minorities as a vote bank. In 1998 the DMK was allied with the BJP.
How would you compare M K Stalin and Edappadi Palaniswami who are leading the two major fronts?
Our teachers are Puratchi Thalaivar MGR (the late Tamil movie superstar and chief minister M G Ramachandran) and Puratchi Thalaivi Jayalalithaa. Our leader Edappadi Palaniswami has concentrated on development and welfare schemes.
We have been appreciated by the central government and the media.
This is in contrast to M K Stalin who was Chennai mayor from 2001-2006. He didn't do anything during the 2002 floods. He was also deputy chief minister and local administration minister, he did nothing for the development of the state. There was power shortage in the state and industry suffered.
In 2005 we had started a project to link the Velachery lake to the Buckingham canal. Funds were allocated and the work started. The DMK came to power in 2006 and stopped it. In 2011 we started it again and it is now complete.
Distribution of money has become an accepted part of elections in Tamil Nadu. Do you think it will be different this time?
People who do not have trust in democratic values will distribute money. We want the Election Commission to take strict action against those who distribute money.
People should realise that it is their own money, and should not take this money. They should report those who distribute money.
There are smaller parties who are not part of both fronts. What impact will they have on the election outcome?
Smaller parties have their own agenda. They have their own promises. It is up to the people to decide who they want to vote for. We want the people to vote for the AIADMK because of the work we have done.
You were an MP from 2014-2019. What were your achievements?
I became an MP in 2014 with the blessings of Amma (Jayalalitha). She said that I should implement people-centric schemes.
One of the schemes I helped implement was the garbage disposal scheme, and my constituency became litter-free. I used to speak to the chief secretary regularly and made sure it was done.
Now wet and dry garbage is separated in a centralised waste disposal scheme. In Pallikaranai it is converted to fertiliser and sent to farmers. As the wet and dry garbage are separated at source, there is less garbage.
I have raised the water requirements of the city in Parliament and met the concerned minister. A 150 MLD (million litres per day) desalination plant has been planned. The foundation has been done and work has started. It will be ready in nine months. It is a Rs 1,200 crore (Rs 12 billion) scheme and there will be no drinking water shortage in my constituency once it is completed.
For healthcare I met the concerned minister and Rs 125 crore (Rs 1.25 billion) were sanctioned for an ESI hospital in K K Nagar, which is in my constituency. The bed capacity in this hospital was increased and a new out patients department building was built.
Our chief minister asked me to build a geriatric care centre. The central government sanctioned Rs 118 crores (Rs 1.18 billion) for this and a new hospital was constructed in Saidapet. During the pandemic it was converted to a corona hospital. Later it will be used for taking care of old people.
What exactly does the Amma Peravai do?
We have members in every district right up to the village level. We celebrate our leader's birthday as people's welfare day. We arrange medical camps, conduct annadhanam for the poor, we also give essential commodities to the poor. Our aim is to help the poor.
We meet once in three months and discuss how to help the people through the government.
You also built a temple for Jayalalitha near Madurai.
Our state minister R B Udhaykumar runs a trust through which he got the land. We got all the necessary permission from the government. His trust constructed the temple.