MADURAI: AIADMK is facing its first full-fledged Assembly elections without the late AIADMK supremo Jayalalitha. How important is this election for the party?
We see Edappadi K Palaniswami as the incarnation of our great leader Jayalalithaa and he has proved it in the last four years rule. So it will not be so tough for AIADMK to face the election. What will you put forth as the major achievements of AIADMK government in the last five years? Kudimaramathu scheme made Tamil Nadu a leading State in water management, which yielded great results to farmers and all the water bodies including tanks and ponds, in every village were desilted. Further, the way we handled the pandemic, Pongal gift schemes, increasing the gold in ‘Thalikku Thangam’ scheme from 4 grams to 8 grams, subsidy for two-wheelers are a few of the major achievements.
DMK leader Stalin says that AIADMK manifesto is a ‘xerox copy’ of DMK’s manifesto. Do you rebut?
Even a common man is unable to read and understand DMK’s manifesto. It is an empty box. Whereas, AIADMK’s manifesto is based on the requirements of the layman. The washing machines that we have announced is an extension of free mixers and grinders. It’s been a challenge to control the price hike of household LPG cylinders. We have also assured six LPG cylinders every year to each family.
While the alliance of PMK, AIADMK appears to be strong in the northern districts, in the southern parts, it seems like there is no stronghold alliance for AIADMK. Do you agree?
Every time when our CM visits the districts in the south, there has been a rousing welcome from the public. We have a strong alliance with the BJP. The works of great leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, for the nation particularly during Covid times and the strength of other allies will help us. Our allies are strong everywhere.
The third front, particularly the parties of TTV Dhinakaran and Kamal Haasan are contesting in this election. Will it make a dent in the vote share of the Dravidian majors?
It’s natural that parties contest in elections. But it’s always between AIADMK and DMK. Because these two parties have a strong foundation even at the village panchayat level. We have party ‘Branch Secretaries’ in all 17544 revenue villages for the past 50 years. We have a permanent vote bank but other parties do not have this infrastructure. They will vanish after elections. We have seen it in the past.
How do you see the alliance with BJP? Is it a strength or weakness for AIADMK?
Definitely, it’s a strength. Only because of our amicable relationship with the Centre, we get several good schemes for the State. We got `1 lakh crore highway schemes in the Budget. During floods, we got all help from them. We got several other projects for the State only because of our cordial relationship with the Union government.