Eager to shed his party's image as a corrupt one, DMK treasurer M.K. Stalin promises a legislation-backed lokayukta and total prohibition in Tamil Nadu if the party is voted to power. Excerpts from an interview:
What is the DMK's unique selling point in this election?
The DMK will work towards making Tamil Nadu the No 1 state in India in all parameters. A non-functioning, inactive AIADMK government has pushed back the state’s development by a decade or two. There are 86 lakh unemployed youth. Industries either have left or are fleeing the state, and farmers have suffered immensely under this government. The DMK government will rebuild the state.
The party manifesto has mentioned appointment of a lokayukta.
A legislation-backed lokayukta will ensure independent oversight of activities of public servants, including elected representatives and the executive. With this intention, we had brought in a legislation in 1973, which was repealed by the AIADMK. The lokayukta will tackle corruption and usher in transparency in governance. It is a natural extension of our objective to provide efficient governance.
The state earns Rs 22,000 crore from the sale of liquor. How feasible is total prohibition?
Total prohibition is the need of the hour. Alcoholism is destroying many families and it needs to be nipped in the bud. It has had a disastrous effect on the finances of families and has increased domestic violence. Productivity of our people has also reduced because of this menace and that has, in turn, affected the state’s economy. For the DMK, people’s wellbeing is as important as revenue. We will find other sources of revenue to compensate for this loss, such as the revenue received from nationalisation of sand mining and quarrying.
How do you see J. Jayalalithaa's five years in power?
Over the last five years, there has been zero governance in Tamil Nadu, led by an absentee chief minister. Her government’s major achievements have been corruption, collection and commission. She put the state and people’s lives on a standstill over the last five years. Forget progress, their situation has worsened.
Do you think Jayalalithaa has slipped up during the election campaign? She was forced to support prohibition, which she opposed till a month ago.
This announcement exposes her dishonesty. People and political parties have been clamouring for prohibition for more than two years now. Her government stated in the legislative assembly that partial prohibition was not feasible. Our concerns were summarily dismissed. Sensing people’s anger and fearing electoral defeat, she has announced partial prohibition with no policy roadmap. It is only an election stunt. People know that this announcement, too, will remain on paper.
If voted to power, will the DMK look into the alleged misdeeds of the AIADMK ministers?
In line with our objective to provide clean and transparent governance, fraudulent action or inaction by public officials, including serving and former ministers, will be probed. Our aim is to make Tamil Nadu the No 1 state in India, again. We have lost five years already; we will not waste another five by indulging in vindictive politics. Our focus has been, and will continue to be, on the welfare of the people.