Ahead of the upcoming Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) chief and prominent Dalit leader Thol Thirumavalavan said that the electoral fronts headed by Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) president Kamal Haasan and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) founder TTV Dhinakaran would end up favouring the DMK alliance in the state. Kamal Haasan appeals to an elite segment of the voters not targeted by the DMK while Dhinakaran eats into the vote-share of the AIADMK. Speaking about the AIADMK in an interview with CNN-News18, Thirumavalavan predicted a serious power tussle post-elections involving VK Sasikala making a fresh bid to capture the reins.
What will be the key issues that you will remind people ahead of this election?
On behalf of the DMK alliance, we will expose the ADMK, BJP and PMK alliance. They are all opportunists. Every political party in the ADMK alliance has contrary ideologies. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) have joined together only for vote-banks. So, our propaganda must be to expose them in front of the people. They are anti-Tamilians, anti-working class, anti-women and anti-marginalised sections. BJP is for the corporates and multinational companies, and ADMK is for the BJP — they have no separate agenda. They are implementing everything based on the Modi government’s agenda. So, our main motto is to expose them, and we will not allow them to develop communal politics in Tamil Nadu. This is the land of social justice. So, we expose them for their anti-social justice ideologies.
Do you think that the BJP is gaining momentum in Tamil Nadu this time?
They are trying that. In the absence of former chief ministers Kalaignar Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa, they are thinking that they will develop their party in Tamil Nadu with communal agenda. They are creating some communal and religious issues around Lord Murugan, the Vel Yatra, etc. But I believe Tamil Nadu will not allow them to create these issues. Despite their tries to develop a party here, they definitely will face failure.
The Prime Minister in this campaign tries to impress the SC community. How do you see this because from trying to be a Hindutva party, BJP is now trying to appeal to even the SC/ST community from this time around?
BJP is trying to woo the SC/ST community because the scheduled caste and scheduled tribes are mostly supporting Congress all over the country; there is a challenge for BJP and Sangh Pariwar movements that most of the Dalits and tribals are converting to Islam or Christianity day by day. So, they want to stop conversion from Hindu to other religions. Hence, they are focusing on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to stop the conversion as it is their main motto. Secondly, the Congress vote-bank is mainly based on the Dalits and tribals, so to stop them voting for the Congress, they’re focusing on Scheduled caste and Scheduled tribes. Actually, they are anti-SC and anti-tribals because they do support social justice. They are not bothered about caste atrocities and honour killings and never talk about these issues. People from the scheduled caste and scheduled tribes all over the country are suffering because of caste atrocities but the BJP and Sangh Pariwar people do not bother about these issues. They are not for scheduled caste but they are talking about the SCs now only for vote-banks.
This time in Tamil Nadu apart from the Dravidian parties, we are also seeing Kamal Hassan, TTV Dhinakaran. Is it going to split or eat into DMK-led alliance and ADMK-led alliance? How do you see both of them now trying to form their own third fronts?
I believe that Kamal Hassan and TTV Dhinakaran will not affect the DMK alliance. Kamal Hassan can get votes from elite people. This vote bank helps the DMK alliance so, it will be a favour for us. TTV Dhinakaran is also a factor in this election. He can split the vote bank from ADMK only. It is also a favour for us. Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) leader Seeman can also split some percentage of votes from Tamil ethnic groups. Actually, this vote bank can impact the DMK alliance but it will not affect us much. Rhese three parties will not have any impact against the DMK alliance in the upcoming election. We will win and this election will be a cake walk for us.
In Tamil Nadu, in 2016, we saw the formation of a Third Front. This time, too, we see Kamal Hassan represent the third front. In Tamil Nadu, do you see the potential for a powerful Third Front in the future?
Not only in Tamil Nadu but all over the country, Third Fronts have always been instant alliances. They form only at the moment of an election. They have no sustainable agenda. If Third fronts will be formed for a particular agenda or with an ideology, they will have to work for some elections together. They have to sustain their journey but every election, we are facing some third front. We also tried in 2016 with Makkal Nala Kootani (People’s Welfare Front) but after the election, it automatically collapsed. So, a third front is needed but they have to be formed, work together for a long time to get good feedback from people. Otherwise, it will not be very impactful.
Do you think Sasikala will make a comeback after the 2021 elections?
I do feel so because she said that she’s going to keep quiet but not going away from politics. So, I think, after the elections, she will come back to politics.
If you look at the NDA alliance, they are strong in terms of caste-based arithmetics. How do you look at this arithmetic?
They have no faith in their own party’s strength and they don’t have support from the people because of their ruling for the past ten years. They didn’t do anything for the people. Anti-incumbency is very strong against ADMK because they ruled for ten years for two consecutive terms. And they have an alliance with communal force i.e, BJP and caste force i.e, PMK. So, it is religious fanatics on one side and caste fanatics on the other side. They have only one agenda: that caste and religion factor will work out for them to win and people will definitely defeat them because of this alliance. Some people in Tamil Nadu support caste and religion but it’s a very minor group. The caste factor will not work out here. PMK has tried it many a times including during the 2016 elections when they provoked caste sentiment among people but failed. They reached only 6-7% of the votes among the Vanniyar community. PMK said 20% of the total Tamil population are Vanniyars but they could only reach only 5-6%. So, the whole community will not support caste fanaticism. The data shows that. Even in other caste groups like Mukkalathoor (Thevars), Kongu Vellalar or Dalits, they can’t get any benefit because of the caste card. They can do some politics and some bargaining in the alliance, that’s all. But they will not succeed.
In the elections, you would contest from only six seats. Will your voice be heard in the Assembly with only six seats?
What to do? We have been in an alliance with DMK for the past four and a half years. It’s not an instant alliance. We didn’t decide to join immediately. For the past four and a half years, we have worked together. We said to the people that we are for social justice. Now, we have started negotiations with DMK, and got only six seats. Not only for VCK. Even CPI, CPM and MDMK got only six seats. Congress also got only 25 but in 2016, they got more than 40 seats. So, their number has reduced too. Only because of these numbers, we don’t want to break our alliance. If we do that, then it will definitely be useful for the ADMK and BJP alliance. So, we should secure the DMK alliance without breaking it. We have not compromised but convinced ourselves to sign and wish to continue with the alliance. We don’t allow caste and communal fanatics in our state. That is our main motto. So, we settled with the DMK alliance peacefully and smoothly.