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For Daily:16/08/14:Ramanathapuam:Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan talking to reporters at Kooriyur near Ramanathapuram on Sunday.P

BJP’s backing for ruling party in the State cannot be doubted, says ex-Minister

Amid a perception that the AIADMK is not keen on identifying itself with the BJP for the upcoming bypolls to the Nanguneri and Vikravandi Assembly constituencies, senior BJP leader and former Union Minister Pon. Radhakrishnan says the ruling party in the State has not asked the BJP for support. He, however, adds that the BJP’s support for the AIADMK government cannot be doubted. Excerpts:

The AIADMK has not formally sought the BJP’s support for the Nanguneri and Vikravandi bypolls. Will the BJP still work for the AIADMK’s candidates?

The alliance formed for the Parliamentary polls will continue. There is absolutely no doubt about that. But so far, they (AIADMK) have not sought our support for these bypolls. I don’t know whether they have spoken to our Central leadership.

I also have not spoken to the AIADMK leaders because we have been busy with meetings meant to explain the dilution of Article 370 and also Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary celebrations.

The BJP did not campaign during the Parliamentary poll in Vellore. There is a perception that the AIADMK chose to keep you away to garner the votes of minorities. Nanguneri has a significant Christian population….

This is a completely wrong opinion. I don’t know how the AIADMK saw it (in Vellore). In previous elections, Muslims and Christians had voted directly for BJP candidates. Likewise, all Hindus are not going to vote for the BJP. We want them to vote for us; we want all Muslims, Christians, [people belonging to] all religions to vote for us. We don’t discriminate along religious lines. In the AIADMK alliance, did the minorities vote for us or not? Didn’t they vote for us in the DMK alliance? Look at 2014. We came up with a separate alliance. The minorities also voted for us.

But even if the AIADMK doesn’t ask, will you still campaign for it? You are saying that leaders are going to be busy with the Gandhi Sankalp Yatra…

It is not the Tamil Nadu BJP’s programme but the Central BJP’s. This is an all-India programme. We have to compulsorily conduct it. All leaders will be on a padayatra. At the same time, whatever decision our Central leadership takes, we will act accordingly.

Is there then a disconnect between the BJP and the AIADMK?

I won’t say there’s a disconnect. They might have some thought process. But like I said earlier, they may have spoken to our Delhi leadership. I don’t know if that’s the case.

Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam recently side-stepped a question on the BJP and said they had sought the support of parties that were backing them…

Whether they [AIADMK] are backing us or not…from our side, we are definitely backing them. We are supporting the party and the Tamil Nadu government.

So there are no doubts about the alliance from the BJP side?

There are no doubts about that.

When the bypoll schedule for these constituencies was announced, AIADMK Ministers called on DMDK president Vijayakant, but have not called on any BJP leader for support so far. How do you see this?

You will have to ask this question to the AIADMK. The DMDK and the PMK are our alliance partners and I don’t see anything wrong in the meeting.

Is there a possibility of a tie-up with the AIADMK for the local body polls?

Let it [election] come. The voting patterns for the Parliamentary, Assembly and local body elections are different. So, we will decide on the steps that need to be taken.

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