Say hi to Tamil Nadu’s newest political party, and they have one main agenda - environment

Udayakumar says that election strategies are not top priority.
Say hi to Tamil Nadu’s newest political party, and they have one main agenda - environment
Say hi to Tamil Nadu’s newest political party, and they have one main agenda - environment
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In 2011, just after an AIADMK-led alliance came to power in Tamil Nadu, one of the first political challenges for Jayalalithaa was dealing with the protesters at Kudankulam, who were demanding that the work on the nuclear power plant there be stopped and project scrapped. The protests were massive, with thousands participating in the southern district for several months. Five years later, their most prominent leader, SP Udayakumar, has now launched his own political party.

Taking a cue from the Green parties in the West, People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) has announced the formation of 'Pachai Tamizhagam' (Green Tamil Nadu). PMANE remains at the forefront of the anti-Kudankulam protests. But their scope is more than just nuclear power.

"Our main motive is ecology and safeguarding our environmental wealth, our natural resources , participatory democracy, feminism, non-violence, future-mindedness and being responsible. It is basically taking care of our environment, protecting our nature, taking care of our future interests and opposing disastrous development projects like nuclear power plants," says SP Udayakumar, in an interview to The News Minute in Chennai.

Udayakumar feels that India should brace up for parties which have environment as an important part of their agenda. "India has to be ready for green parties as you see in Germany green party is very strong and in USA, Ralph Nader contested on green ticket some ten years ago and made very good inroads in electoral frame," he says. 

He adds that people in India are getting interested in these issues because of what is happening around them. He stated the example of recent Chennai floods. “People realized that it is because of encroachments of lakes and ponds which was causing the excessive flooding,” he says.

 Blaming political parties for exploiting resources, he says, "BJP and Congress are selling our natural resources to foreign corporations."

But is Tamil Nadu really ready for a Green party?

 "People know that issues like river-bed and beach-mining are important social issues, so they want politicians to raise them and fight against them,” he says.

This is not Udayakumar’s first foray into politics. PMANE was supporting the Aam Admi Party in 2014, but have since broken away. "We had put forward five petitions like having a Tamil name, to make policies on sensitive issues like Tamil Eelam and fishermen issue by consulting them. They were not doing that and Arvind Kejriwal never came to Tamil Nadu,” he says, adding that they also refused to take a stand on the nuclear issue, which was embarrassing for the PMANE.

Interestingly, Udayakumar says that election strategies are not top priority. "We are just focussed on creating the next generation of leaders. We need to instil such thinking and values in our youngsters, that is our priority,” he said. 

The party is planning to organize education campaigns. They will be conducting leadership campaigns. They will be targeting a few thousand men and women and they will be taught about different political parties. They will also be taught about other political leaders. 

Meanwhile, their anti- nuclear movement continues, "Struggle still continues against Kundankulam and Kalpakkam. We are persisting with that as in Germany and as a Green party we will continue to advocate anti-nuclear stand." 

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