National

Youngsters see me as one of their own: Anbumani Ramadoss

N Ramakrishnan Chennai | Updated on January 20, 2018

Anbumani Ramadoss

It is a little over a year back that the PMK decided to go it alone in the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu and also started projecting Anbumani Ramadoss as its chief ministerial candidate. The PMK’s campaign has centred around Anbumani Ramadoss, promising “change and development.” The PMK’s manifesto has promised to do away with freebies and enforce total prohibition. “It was a well-thought move,” Anbumani Ramadoss said during a recent interview. In this interview, Anbumani Ramadoss talks about the party’s prospects and the issues it has been highlighting. Edited excerpts:

How is the campaign going for you?

It is going very good for us. There is a huge groundswell of support. Youngsters want us to come to power, in the sense they want Anbumani to come to power. Neutral voters are averse to both AIADMK and DMK. Youngsters feel that this guy talks sense and he is talking schemes, he is talking problems and solutions and they are all do-able. He says he is not going to give freebies. A welfare government is supposed to give you free education, free health, free potable drinking water and then free housing and power and employment. I tell them that change is not from a bad to another bad; change is from a bad to a good. I am asking for a chance for good. Give me five years, I can change your life. I don’t want more than five years.

When did you hit upon the idea of not giving freebies as part of your campaign?

Fifteen months back, when I was announced as the chief minister candidate. Since then, I have been telling no freebies. Some in my party were sceptical. Today we are in a situation that all the parties in Tamil Nadu except AIADMK have said no freebies. That change of mentality, we are the cause for that.

Plus, prohibition. We are the ones who set the trend for that. We have been fighting for prohibition for the last 26 years. Today all the political parties, including Jayalalithaa are saying that. We are the first to talk about Lok Ayukta, right to public service act, e-governance we said, everybody is following us, a separate budget for agriculture, a ministry for water management, check dams across all rivers. They (DMK) are copying us. One whole year, I have gone around the State and felt the pulse of the people and said this is what they want.

You seem to be banking on the young voters. Is that enough for you to come to power?

Absolutely. They see in me their reflection. I am the only person in their generation. All the others are in the previous generation. They see me, a youngster, an educated person, a doctor, who has got credentials. I have got four international awards. When I was Union Health Minister I have done lots for the country. The main factor here is people are fed with both of them. That is the underlying factor for any decision. People know both are lying to them. We have been getting huge support from the general public.

Let me tell you there are 5.82 crore voters in Tamil Nadu, out of which 60 per cent are neutral, 40 per cent are party voters. Out of 60 per cent, two-thirds are young voters, below 35 years. The young voters in sheer numbers, they come to nearly 2 crore voters, below 35 years. We had an in-house survey in December, after the floods, we surveyed the youngsters. We found 80 per cent of them didn’t want DMK or AIADMK. Who are they going to vote for? Are they going to vote for Vijayakant? They all want a change, they are going to vote for us only.

The only support we don’t have is from the media. You see these opinion polls. These are structured, manipulated polls. One poll went to the extent of making me third in my constituency. You can see the authenticity of the polls.

There is a perception that the PMK is anti-industry, or that you are not pro-industry?

Definitely we are pro industry. Industry is the only thing that can give us economic growth. Industry and agriculture. We are definitely not anti-industry. We want industry but not at the cost of environment. We will be divide Tamil Nadu into five zones and each zone will have a chief secretary level officer for administration. The zones will have regional economic commissionerate and each of them will have a commissioner, whose work will be to draw investments. Every six months, the chief minister will review it for both investment and employment.

How feasible is your move to have total prohibition from Day one?

We have thought it out and worked out the details. If Nitish Kumar could do it, why can’t Anbumani? The revenue is ₹26,000 crore, but the destruction is much more – more than ₹2 lakh crore on the industrial side and on the social side it is ₹1.30 lakh crore. It is huge destruction, fabric of society and the next generation.

I can offset the revenue loss by eliminating corruption in sand mining, mining of beach sand and granite quarrying, and getting market prices for all three. These three things, you regulate you can get ₹84,000 crore a year. And, plus ₹15,000 crore by proper collection of commercial taxes properly and another ₹40,000 crore if you remove corruption in transport, electricity. (EOM).

Published on May 12, 2016

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