'Even though we are very religious and God fearing, we do not subscribe to the kind of Hindutva they practise, a very hierarchical, Brahmanical, Hindutva.'
The Congress is just a small partner in the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam front like the Bharatiya Janata Party is in the All India Anna DMK led front in Tamil Nadu.
The DMK has allotted only 25 seats to the Congress to contest in the 2021 assembly election.
But the Congress is in a jubilant mood as opinion polls predict a victory for the DMK front.
"People in Tamil Nadu do not want a government which has any shadow of the BJP," Karti Chidambaram, the Congress MP from Sivaganga, tells Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier. The first of a two-part interview:
How are you trying to woo voters? In the name of the front led by the DMK or on the strength of the Congress?
The Congress has a significant vote bank in Tamil Nadu, and we are the third largest political party in the state.
The Congress adds the secular feel to the alliance. The minorities feel comfortable with the Congress in an alliance. So, they will come out and support the alliance.
The Congress has its own vote bank and its own infrastructure. As far as this election is concerned, we have our own functionaries and we depend on them. Of course, we rely on our alliance partners also to conduct the campaign.
The campaign, of course, is against the 10 years of rule of the ADMK, and the seven years of rule of the BJP (at the Centre).
The 10-year rule of the AIADMK has not benefitted anybody at the ground level. I ask a simple question when I go to the villages: Has your life improved in the last 10 years of the AIADMK? And the simple answer from them always is No.
People in Tamil Nadu do not want a government which has any shadow of the BJP. The BJP is a rejected party, and not a party that is welcome here.
We believe that the BJP is a Hindutva party.
People of Tamil Nadu want a change and they want to vote for a change. They don't want this government to continue.
Why do you feel the people of Tamil Nadu want a change? Is it because of the presence of the BJP in the AIADMK front or just anti-incumbency?
See, the elections work based on a combination of factors.
The fact is, people want a change of government. They want a government that does not have any influence of the BJP.
Then, the DMK is a large and established political party. Above all, the DMK is leading a very inclusive front.
All these factors are playing in our favour and we should win the elections very comfortably like we did in the 2019 Lok Sabha election by winning 38 out of 39 seats.
The BJP is trying hard to enter Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and their agenda is a Congress-mukt Bharat. Will they be successful this time?
The BJP has no MLA or MP in Tamil Nadu, and I am sure that it will continue to be like that. So, the BJP is trying to enter through the back door.
Even the BJP candidates are not from the Sangh Parivar; they are all from various other parties. It is a hollow organisation as far as Tamil Nadu is concerned.
Why do you think the people of Tamil Nadu do not welcome the BJP?
That is because of their agenda, the agenda of Hindi and Hindutva.
Even though we are very religious and God fearing, we do not subscribe to the kind of Hindutva they practise, a very hierarchical, Brahmanical, Hindutva. People of Tamil Nadu do not believe in that version of Hindutva.
They want to impose Hindi on everybody. The BJP releases its list of candidates in Tamil Nadu in Hindi! The signboards are in Hindi in the central government offices and railway stations.
Even the announcements are in Hindi. Tamil is not an option in the central government examinations, but Hindi is an option.
There are many such instances where the people of Tamil Nadu feel Hindi is thrust upon them.
I am quite confident that the BJP will be completely rejected in Tamil Nadu.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com