The BJP is a minor partner in the AIADMK alliance and the national party aligned with the ruling party in Tamil Nadu for political and electoral reasons, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said. In an interview with the Chennai-based Dina Thanthi group, Modi was asked about allying with the AIADMK, when many of its ministers have been accused of corruption in high office. As a politician who often invokes the anti-corruption platform, Modi was asked if the CBI would investigate the corruption charges against AIADMK ministers if the NDA were to form the government again.
"Even Narendra Modi will be interrogated if corruption charges are levelled against him. No one can escape an investigation," he said. On the allegations of corruption against AIADMK Ministers and the BJP allying with the ruling party in the state, he said, "We are just a minor partner in the AIADMK alliance and have aligned with the party for political and electoral reasons. Our fight against corruption will not cease."
Responding to allegations that AIADMK was coerced into an alliance, Modi said BJP did not know to apply pressure on other parties. "In politics, no one can coerce anyone. The BJP doesn’t know to apply pressure to other parties and we don’t need to do that either. This is the truth. Besides, everyone knows about the camaraderie that existed between Jayalalithaa and the BJP," he said.
When asked about the possibility of a post-poll alliance with the DMK which is part of the Congress alliance, PM Modi exuded confidence that the BJP would win a simple majority and hence there would be no need for an alliance with the main opposition party in the state.
“BJP will win the Lok Sabha elections with a simple majority. Reports of the first phase of elections give us confidence. We believe that the BJP has grown over the years. We formed a government in Arunachal Pradesh too. BJP will win more seats than it had won in the earlier elections. Our allies will also win. So, there will be no need for aligning with DMK. However, we will not hesitate to seek the cooperation of Congress and DMK to govern the country as we have to run the country and serve its people. We will seek the cooperation of all the parties to govern the country,” he said.
On NEET and black money
When asked about BJP's promise to fight black money and his 2014 poll promise of depositing Rs 15 lakh back into the bank account of every Indian, PM Modi said several multilateral agreements had been signed with other countries for this. “We are monitoring all the accounts in foreign banks and the money deposited in the accounts. We will get complete information about black money after 2019. After forming the government in 2014, we formed a team to investigate black money, but Congress did not appoint any team even after the intervention of the Supreme Court.” he said.
When asked about Tamil Nadu's water issues as well as its problems with the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, Modi skipped the second half of the question. Instead, he said, "I know the issues faced by the state. We have explained the solutions for Tamil Nadu’s issues in our manifesto. To my knowledge, water is a major problem. We will set up a separate ministry to deal with such issues by allocating funds for rainwater harvesting, desalination projects, interlinking of rivers and others."
BJP’s presence in south India
When asked why he chose to ally with a Dravidian party from the state, unlike 2014, PM Modi said that intention was different five years ago. "We don’t have any difference of opinion with Dravidian parties. In 2014, our intentions were different. Jayalalithaa was at the helm of AIADMK and we chose an alternative alliance. But, in this election, we have decided to go with the AIADMK. We have allied with the party in the past too," he said.
When asked if he, like Congress President Rahul Gandhi, considered contesting from South India, PM Modi said, "I don’t take any decision. I adhere to the decision of the party. I don’t want to complicate matters by pondering over unnecessary developments."
On why the BJP was struggling to establish itself in four out of five southern states (BJP has a strong presence only in Karnataka), Modi denied the notion. "First, they said that the BJP was a north Indian party. Then they labelled us as a pro-urban party and only for the upper class. But BJP has MPs from Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes too. We have won many seats in rural areas and captured several panchayats. They claim we are a north Indian party, but Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka are not north Indian states. In Andhra Pradesh, the government was functioning with the support of BJP. We will also win more seats in Tamil Nadu," he added.
When asked about how he would manage disagreements on safeguarding national interest and rights of the states, PM Modi blamed the Congress for the 'losses faced by the country.'
"Congress had dissolved state governments more than 100 times invoking Article 356. It had dissolved MGR’s government too," he claimed. He said, "For the nation’s growth, coordination with state governments is imperative. To safeguard federalism, there should be a good understanding between the state and central governments. At the same time, the country’s interest should also be considered. State and central government should work in tandem to resolve issues."
Admitting that there was a delay in the disbursal of insurance amount to farmers, Modi said that this was 'identified and rectified'. He also claimed that the farmers of Tamil Nadu have been paid Rs 5,000 crore so far.