PMK youth wing leader Anbumani Ramdoss was pushed on the back foot on Monday, as he was bombarded with questions on the party's alliance with the AIADMK, at a press conference in Chennai. Years of criticism and allegations of corruption that the PMK had directed at the ruling party resurfaced, as the PMK leader attempted to justify the electoral pact.
The Dharmapuri MP's explanation began with a list of demands that he had made to the AIADMK-BJP alliance as a pre-condition to joining them as an ally. But it was only halfway through the press conference that the reason for the change in electoral strategy was actually explained.
The PMK had on multiple occasions, through eight years, maintained that it will never align with the Dravidian parties. The change in heart, however, Anbumani admitted, was mainly due to the partyâ€™s underwhelming performance in the last four elections in 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2016.
â€śWe contested, travelled through the state and sought votes. We worked very hard and put forth a great election manifesto (in 2016). We were appreciated for it by the people but they did not give us any seats. Therefore, we have changed our strategy,â€ť he said. "I have already said that no single party can win elections this time around. That is why we had to change our stand. The situation now is different than before. There is no Jayalalithaa or Karunanidhi anymore. I can't deny what I said before, we did say we won't ally with both DMK or AIADMK,â€ť he further added.
The PMK leader claimed that this alliance was for the welfare of people and recalled how when he was a Union Minister, he could implement the anti-tobacco warning before movies, a promise that he had made before elections.
"Similarly, till now we have protested from outside for prohibition. Now we will apply pressure from inside, for them to ensure it is done," he explained.
But what really stumped the leader was a direct question on whether he believed the AIADMK government under the leadership of Edappadi Palaniswami was corrupt or not. Until recently, the PMK was a strong critic of the alleged corruption in the AIADMK government and had even demanded that Health Minister Vijayabhaskar step down over his alleged involvement in the Gutka scam. The ferocity with which Anbumani and his father S.Ramadoss flayed the government, was visible for all to see. The party had even given the Tamil Nadu governor a list of corruption allegations against the AIADMK.
But at the press conference, a mild answer after an uncomfortable pause, was all Anbumani could offer - â€śIt is true we gave a list of corruption charges to the Governor. Even today, our stand is that there should be an investigation and strong action should be taken against the corrupt. Let the CBI investigate and if they bring out evidence of corruption, action must definitely be taken."