Giving interviews to the media before elections is not a priority of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, says her right hand man and senior AIADMK leader C Ponaiyyan who is contesting from Saidapet constituency in the upcoming polls.
Ponaiyyan, a former Finance Minister of the state, defended his leader Jayalalithaa while speaking to Rajya Sabha TV. He said that Amma’s main focus has always been to come up with pro-poor schemes. He lashed out at the Centre for focussing more on industries and not the poor.
AIADMK, which is criticised for promoting the freebie culture in the state, Ponaiyyan said the freebies will continue and probably on a much larger scale when Jayalalithaa returns to power.
According to Ponaiyyan the existing schemes – idli for one rupee, Pongal for five rupees, free mixer-grinders and free laptops to the students – will bring back AIADMK to power.
Ponaiyan also dismissed all reports of Amma’s ill health.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Why doesn’t Chief Minister Jayalalithaa give interviews to the media?
Her focus is on voters, regional issues and not on the media. In fact the media is not her priority list CM’s voice reaches every nook and corner of the state.
Why do you think the people of Tamil Nadu will vote for AIADMK?
AIADMK government has launched many pro-poor schemes. Poverty eradication is on top of our agenda. The Centre is ignoring primary sectors and only showering sops on the industry sector.
Is it right for democracy that a party like yours is promoting freebie culture in the state?
We are the saviours and caretakers of the public at large. When the Centre ignores poor people, it is a party like ours that makes a difference. There needs to be a budgetary allocation for the poor and the freebie schemes are here to stay.
Are you saying that the state does not have funds , even then it is justifying doling out freebies?
The funds that are with the Centre are not funnelled back to the state. The 14th Financial Commission is partial and they don’t send enough funds to Tamil Nadu. The poor in the state are spared from starvation only because of our freebies.
AIADMK was seen as a potential ally of the BJP , but now things seem to have taken a wrong course. Is that true?
Our political policy is very clear. No one is our enemy or our ally. We only provide constructive support to the Centre.
What is the role of smaller caste organisations in 2016 polls?
Smaller outfits sail with the party. Jayalalithaa is secular in her approach.
How will your party justify the recent caste conflicts in northern Tamil Nadu?
The state government is not responsible for the caste conflicts. Caste politics is part of the social fabric. Post Periyar caste factor has reduced in the state.
You have seen the party grow from the MGR days. What has changed since then?
Amma is following the footsteps of MGR. She is successfully running the party and is in complete control.
There are reports that Jayalalithaa is extremely unwell?
Amma is fine. She is the healthiest politician around.
Some people say that Amma is dictatorial and autocratic. Is that true?
Amma weilds the iron hand when mischievous elements enter the arena. It is important for her to discipline the cadres.
Parties see the prohibition announcement as a political gimmick?
Liquor prohibition policy will be implemented. Amma has already said that and she will stick to her promise.