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Rediff.com  » Election » 'For 42 years, film stars ruled Tamil Nadu. It's time others took over'

'For 42 years, film stars ruled Tamil Nadu. It's time others took over'

May 11, 2009 08:35 IST
There is no dearth of political parties in Tamil Nadu. The Kongunadu Munetra Peravai-- with as many as 12 candidates this Lok Sabha election -- is the latest entrant. Having fielded all candidates from Kongunadu -- western Tamil Nadu -- the party's first public meeting in Coimbatore recently created a storm in political circles.

The KMP is a political party formed by the affluent and dominant Gounder community, which comprises 20 per cent of the electorate. It was a deadlock between farmers and industrialists over disposing effluent waste from dyeing units in Tirupur that led to the launch of the new party. Then it stole the thunder when it supported the practice of toddy-tapping , which is banned in Tamil Nadu.

Leading the Gounders from the front is 'Best' Ramasamy. The tag 'Best' comes from the brand of his highly popular textile venture.

Contesting from Pollachi, 'Best' Ramasamy is the party's star campaigner, crisscrossing all the constituencies where it has candidates.

All the 12 candidates are Gounders, barring in the Nilgiris, a reserved constituency.

'Best' Ramasamy spoke to A Ganesh Nadar about his party and its plans.

Why did you start a political party?

It was our people's wish. For decades, we have waited for politicians to do something for us. They have done nothing. Now we have decided to do it ourselves. For that, we need political power. So we decided to enter electoral politics. We are honest, hardworking, simple people.

We have been taken for a ride for too long, but not anymore.

You said that you want to put an end to star politics in Tamil Nadu?

Yes, I did. For 42 years, film stars ruled Tamil Nadu. Either they were scriptwriters like C N Annadurai and Karunanidhi or stars like the late M G Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa. And look where it has landed us. It's time others took over.

You have also asked for a separate state, Kongunadu?

That is the last resort. Many projects have been pending for years here. Our needs and demands have not been met. If the state doesn't fulfill our aspirations, then we will have no choice, but to demand a separate state.

This belt is one of the most prosperous regions in Tamil Nadu. How can you call it neglected?

This is the belt that generates maximum revenue for the state and central governments. We contribute 42 percent of the state revenue in taxes. But the spending is not proportionate. Our funds are being used elsewhere. We have no issues with the state using the money as it wishes, but it should first fulfill our needs.

In what way do you think that you can do better than the Congress and the Dravidian parties?

We can do better with hard work. They are not doing anything for industry or agriculture. We will do what is necessary to promote both. This area is ahead in industry and agriculture. With good government support, it can reach greater heights.

When will caste-based and communal politics end in Tamil Nadu?

I don't know about the others, but we are not a caste or communal-based party. Ours is a region-based party. We represent the people of Kongunadu.It doesn't matter which caste or religion they belong to.

Why did you support the toddy-tappers's agitation?

That was a matter of principle. The government is selling brandy and whisky in the state. So, why not toddy? We will stop supporting the toddy-tappers if the government stops selling liquor. Let them introduce total prohibition and we will support them.

What happens if you lose? Will you still be in politics?

100 percent. We will involve ourselves in politics. You may think that we are a new start-up and we will shut shop soon. But, we won't.

Our Sangam has been in existence for the last 25 years. We have been involved in community work. We have just added politics to its agenda. It's been around for a long time and it will be around for a long time.

By the way, who said we will lose? We will win and send our representatives to the Lok Sabha.