Chennai, Feb 5 (PTI) — People of Tamil Nadu did not vote for anyone from Jayalalithaa's "household" to be chief minister, says DMK Working President MK Stalin, who appears to be keeping his options open on the possibility of another government in the tenure of the current assembly.
He also asserts that there are no "obstacles" to his leadership in the party and dismisses as "pointless" questions whether projecting him as the chief ministerial face would have won DMK power in the last year's assembly polls.
The 63-year-old leader, who was made the Working President of DMK last month, is worried about divisions in the ruling AIADMK after the death of Jayalalithaa and keen that it should not affect the functioning of the administration.
"One thing is certain that the government — in its present form — is clearly one that doesn't have the explicit legitimacy of having been elected by the people. The people voted for a government to be headed by Ms Jayalalithaa in May, 2016 and not for one to be run by Mr O Panneerselvam or any other person from Ms Jayalalithaa's household," Stalin told PTI in an interview, the first since he took over as Working President.
His comments came on a day the chorus grew in the AIADMK for its General Secretary VK Sasikala to take over as Chief Minister of the state.
So, the Leader of the Opposition in the state said, the present government, which clearly does not enjoy the support of the majority, has a divided cabinet and the AIADMK MLAs speaking in different voices, is bound to fail.
"As a responsible party, the DMK is watching the situation closely. Any decision that we take will be within the framework of democracy, reflecting the popular will and aspirations of the people," he said.
He was asked whether he foresaw the possibility of DMK forming a government within the tenure of the 15th assembly, given that the gap in numbers between the ruling and the opposition parties is not very huge. Asked about reports of power struggle within AIADMK in the wake of Jayalalithaa's death, Stalin said DMK does not want to intervene or interfere in the internal affairs of AIADMK but there were reports on a daily basis that such a division existed.
"As the Leader of the Opposition in the state, however, my primary worry is that such internal problems within the ruling AIADMK should affect neither the functioning of the Legislative Assembly nor the administration of the state. As the main opposition party in the state, the DMK has the responsibility to ensure that," he said.
When queried about murmurs of criticism about family politics in DMK and when he foresaw himself taking full charge of the party, Stalin said his detention under MISA during the emergency in 1975-77 is still green in his memory. He said he was happy he had an opportunity to fight for democracy as a cadre of the DMK during his youth.
"Dr Kalaignar (Karunanidhi) is the President of the party and he has been guiding me in all the spheres of my activity. I know very well that a hard and sincere worker in the DMK will never face obstacles and even if there are a few obstacles, they will be converted into stepping stones," he said.
Stalin, son of Karunanidhi, had led a spirited campaign ahead of the assembly elections last year that in which the party won 89 seats on its own and 98 together with allies in a House of 234 losing by a narrow margin in the race for power.
I know very well that a hard and sincere worker in the DMK will never face obstacles and even if there are a few obstacles, they will be converted into stepping stones - MK Stalin
Asked if he agreed with the analysis that probably projecting him as the chief minister would have ensured DMK's victory, he said the number of seats won by DMK individually and together with allies were both unprecedented records.
"Even with the draw of Ms Jayalalithaa at the helm of AIADMK, the vote margin between the party in power and the DMK was just 1.1%. Our future is so bright. This kind of post-hoc speculation about our previous campaign that your question raises is completely pointless. I strongly believe that digging into the past is distracting from the future," he said.
To a question on the perception that DMK has not been strident in attacking the Centre on issues concerning central projects in the state, Stalin said as a political party, DMK always preferred to maintain good relations with the party in power at the Centre but only as long as the interests of the State and the secular character of the nation are protected.
"But we are not the ruling party in Tamil Nadu. It is for the ruling AIADMK, which also happens to have 49 MPs, to make the central government act fairly towards the state."
He said he was disappointed at the AIADMK government's lack of enthusiasm to fight for the rights of the state with the government at the Centre.
As for the Sethusamudram project, Stalin charged that it has been delayed not only due to the efforts of the BJP but also due to the AIADMK government's attitude which is unmindful of the development of the state.
"DMK is strongly for the Sethusamudram project, which will boost the economy, spur development and create employment — in not only the southern districts but the whole state and wherever the situation demands we haver been raising our voice for the implementation of the project," he said.
When queried about the Dravidian parties aligning with the one or the other national parties in recent decades and whether the Marina Uprising had any message for DMK to go to its roots, Stalin said he believed in constructive centre-state relations.
"In a federal set-up, the state government has to depend upon the help of the Central government on so many important issues such as inter-state disputes, major infrastructure development projects, and allocation of central funds," he said.
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