Tamil Nadu’s caretaker Chief Minister O Panneerselvam speaks to The Indian Express on why he spoke out and the road ahead.
Excerpts from the interview:
I don’t know exactly. Amma did not say who should be the leader. But she clearly told us what to do and who all should be kept away. That forced me to speak my mind to the people of Tamil Nadu last night. I did it for our party cadres too. Amma told us to work with the interest of people in mind. That is what forced me to speak out.
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What next? What is the impact of your decision now?
As Amma had told us, I request all party MLAs to consider the spirit and wish of people in their respective constituencies. Because as a party that is ruling the state, our decisions and interests should represent people.
You have always been a humble person in your political positions and decisions. Is that how a ruler should be?
I have always been like that. Being close to people and their lives may be the only way to work for them.
Why are the youths in Tamil Nadu unhappy?
If you are asking about Jallikattu protests, these protests started to protect the tradition and culture of Tamil Nadu. That is why I went to Delhi and tried to fulfil their demands. All such expressions of youths reflect the sentiments of the people. I will always stand for their causes.
You have been in the government for so long? What will be your major priorities if you continue as CM?
We have already closed 500 TASMAC shops. About 1,000 will be closed in the next stage. It is our responsibility to fulfil promises made by Amma and make Tamil Nadu free of alcoholism. Plenty of schemes were announced by Amma in the manifesto.
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I wish to implement all of them one by one. An unprecedented drought crippled the farmers in the state. It was not the state’s mistake but we have to deal with it. We have to consider all options to ensure drinking water reaches all cities and villages in the coming summer.
What is your plan? Why was the Governor’s arrival delayed? Also, allegations that you were in touch with BJP and DMK leaders have cropped up.
Let us wait and watch. I don’t know why the Governor’s trip was delayed. The allegations are baseless.