Disrespects Democracy: Kanimozhi on Fighting Modi in LS Polls

The DMK leader also said Congress President Rahul Gandhi “has really emerged as a strong leader.”

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In an exclusive interview with The Quint’s TM Veeraraghav, DMK leader Kanimozhi, the daughter of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, talks about the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, her party’s differences with the Modi-led BJP government and DMK’s alliance with the Congress.

Despite having once been in coalition with BJP, why is the DMK standing in opposition to the party now?

I remember my leader saying that Mr (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee was the right man in the wrong party. Yes, the DMK did work with the BJP for a brief time but we made sure that secularism and the social fabric of this country wasn’t disturbed to a large extent. We did not exactly allow them to do what they wanted. They had to listen to us.

The BJP’s culture, when Mr Vajpayee was there, was more open, more democratic and it was more inclusive compared to what it has become today. It has become a very extreme religious party with a lot of extreme stands.

They don’t have any respect for the democracy of this country, for secularism, and even for the Constitution.

It’s 2019, you are part of an alliance with the Congress. And as you head into the election, your brother and the leader of DMK, MK Stalin, has declared Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial choice of the Opposition. Do you think that was a premature announcement?

As the leader of the DMK, he is talking about the preference of the DMK. I mean, everybody has a suggestion. This is DMK’s suggestion. That is what he is saying. He is not trying to say everybody has to accept it.

What are your thoughts on Rahul Gandhi? How do you see his leadership?

He has definitely emerged as a very strong leader. But you cannot say he is a strong leader in exactly the same terms as you would describe Mr Modi.

He (Rahul Gandhi) is a different answer... different kind of an answer. A person who believes in consensus, someone who believes in taking everyone along. And who is open to suggestions, criticism.

He is a more democratic leader. He has really emerged as a leader, whom other people respect. Leaders who’ve got more experience than him also listen to him and respect his suggestions and ideas.

Does MK Stalin, your brother, have the undisputed loyalty of the party? Or are there factions within, which can threaten the unity of DMK?

I think as a journalist with so much of experience, you know the answer. Definitely, the party stands behind him.

You don’t think there is anybody else who has the stature to challenge MK Stalin?

I don’t think there is a need to challenge him. We are very happy with the way he works. People have accepted him, party cadres have accepted him.

Do you feel that the taint of what happened in the 2G issue and the fact that you got an acquittal in the court of law removes the taint completely? Or, is there something like a dark cloud that hangs over your head?

No. I think anybody can read the judgment. Nobody can be clearer about that it was a completely false case. So, personally, I feel that the cloud has been removed and taken away. It was an important lesson in my life.

I know there must have been many moments but is there one above all, personally, where you found it very difficult to deal with his (M Karunanidhi’s) absence, as you are heading into an election?

It’s not that I miss him when I have to make a difficult decision. I miss him the most when something good happens to me. Nobody can celebrate it the way a father can.

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