'Tamil Nadu is a state of temples, it's a holy land. People don't seem to realise that.'
Karu Nagarajan, the Bharatiya Janata Party's Tamil Nadu secretary, was the party candidate in the RK Nagar by-election in December 2017 in which T T V Dhinakaran trumped the ruling AIADMK candidate and all the other nominees lost their deposits.
Nagarajan, in fact, polled fewer votes than NOTA in that by-election.
In his earlier electoral outings as well -- in the 2016 state assembly election and in the 2009 Lok Sabha election -- Nagarajan fared no better.
But that was in keeping with the BJP's poor run in the southern state where, in the recent Lok Sabha election which the party fought in alliance with the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, it could win no seat.
"We will regain ground during the assembly elections," Nagarajan, below, tells Rediff.com's A Ganesh Nadar.
The BJP won elections in the rest of the country. What went wrong for you in Tamil Nadu?
In Tamil Nadu, Andhra and Telangana, regional parties are dominant in politics. Here the two Dravidian parties lead the show.
In Tamil Nadu for the last two years the DMK and T T V Dhinakaran have been trying to topple the (AIADMK) government. People started believing them that the government would not last.
There are so many central schemes that have been implemented in Tamil Nadu. We have built homes, toilets. Our insurance schemes are the best. But nobody knows about them.
The Opposition's publicity blitz drowned out all our good work. We will regain ground during the assembly elections.
You know methane extraction in Tamil Nadu was okayed by the Congress (government), but people are using it against us.
Jallikattu was banned by Jairam Ramesh, but we got the bad name. The DMK-Congress combine were against Eelam and banned the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), but we are being blamed.
What are your plans to build your party in Tamil Nadu?
We have undertaken a membership drive. We are also renewing old membership. We have formed 18 teams to get members. We will propagate central schemes properly.
Do you realise that only Tamils are talking about being Dravidians, not Karnataka, Andhra or Kerala?
We have to remind Tamils that they are Hindus.
Tamil Nadu is a state of temples, it's a holy land. People don't seem to realise that.
We also have to tell them that only the BJP can deliver a corruption-free government which will focus on development.
People are saying the AIADMK lost because they had an alliance with your party.
When people win, everyone wants to take credit. But when they lose, they blame others.
People allege you got the alliance done by arm-twisting AIADMK leaders.
The DMK had formed a formidable alliance with the Congress, Communist parties and others. The AIADMK needed an alliance to face that combine. There was no arm-twisting as you say.
The AIADMK needed the alliance as much as we did.
Why can't you tell your ally, the AIADMK, to hold panchayat elections in Tamil Nadu. They have been pending for three years now.
We are wholly in support of elected panchayats. We have been telling them to hold the elections. We have, in fact, held back panchayat funds because the elections have not been held.
Why are we seeing so much gold smuggling at Tiruchi and Chennai airports?
This is because Tamilians are obsessed with gold. Gold is a very important part of dowry. People think of it as a dependable asset in times of stress.
Tamil Nadu has very strong links with Dubai, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. This is the reason so much gold is seized here.