Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections | This election is about protecting the State’s autonomy, says CPI veteran Nallakannu
When the BJP is acting against the State’s rights, the AIADMK cannot cite political reasons for its alliance, says CPI veteran
Veteran Communist Party of India (CPI) leader R. Nallakannu, a freedom fighter, is respected for his integrity and simplicity. In an interview on Saturday, the 95-year-old says the current Assembly election in Tamil Nadu is totally different from previous ones, as it is a fight for protecting State autonomy. Edited excerpts:
How do you see the current Assembly election when compared to the previous ones?
This election is different when compared to the previous elections. This election is a fight to protect the State’s rights and autonomy. It is a fight to preserve the secular nature of India and against the BJP’s Hindutva ideology and its one culture, one nation concept.
All allies of the DMK, including the CPI, have compromised on the number of seats they wanted to contest, citing that there is a need to defeat the BJP. Is this an acknowledgement that the BJP has grown in Tamil Nadu and the electorate can be easily swayed on the Hindu plank, unlike in the past?
No, it is not an acknowledgement of the growth of the BJP in Tamil Nadu. There is a danger. The BJP is acting against the provisions of the Constitution. They want to make India a ‘Hindu rashtra’ and their agenda is to end India’s diversity. They are taking decisions unilaterally without consulting the States. Autonomy and the rights of States, including Tamil Nadu, have been impacted. The farm laws, the Citizenship Amendment Act and NEET are some examples of this. The farmers’ protest has been going on for more than five months, which is unprecedented. The BJP does not tolerate criticism. Against this backdrop, an objective and secular front led by the DMK has come together. We accepted the six seats on offer as we did not want to disrupt the alliance, which has come together with a common goal to defeat the BJP-AIADMK alliance.
Your views on the performance of the AIADMK government…
They have been in power for 10 years. There have been a lot of unfulfilled promises. [Chief Minister] Edappadi K. Palaniswami calls himself a farmer, but has supported the farm laws. This means that he is supporting the corporates. Earlier, the practice was to allow private participation only in certain sectors, while the government ran the key ones. Now, the BJP wants to privatise everything. It will force privatisation in Tamil Nadu as well. The BJP has been imposing Hindi and Sanskrit in Tamil Nadu. The AIADMK government claims that it is attracting big investments and creating jobs, but there is news about graduates applying for conservancy jobs. The AIADMK mishandled the Sterlite issue. When the BJP is acting against the States’ rights and autonomy, you cannot have an alliance with the party and say that it is for political reasons.
You have seen many elections prior to and after independence. What has changed and what needs to change?
The British rule gave voting rights only to a few. For instance, only graduates could vote.
After independence, everyone got the right to vote and decide on which government they wanted. That is what Independence gave us. But concerns expressed by B.R. Ambedkar on whether the Constitution will sustain in the future remains. True independence can be preserved only if the divide of inequality is bridged and equality is achieved.