‘The Congress will be gone from the political scene. The BJP and Congress are the two sides of the same evil coin,’ anti-Koodankulam nuclear plant activist and new AAP member S P Udaykumar tells Rediff.com‘s A Ganesh Nadar.
S P Udaykumar has been spearheading the anti-nuclear protests for the past three years against India’s latest nuclear power plant in Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district.
Udaykumar has been doing this from Idinthakarai village adjoining Koodankulam and has over 350 cases filed against him. He has been protected from arrest by the villagers who have declared that he can be arrested only over their dead bodies.
All your life you have been an activist. How come you suddenly became a politician? Activists hate politicians.
I agree we don’t get along with politicians. There are two reasons for joining the AAP.
One is that fellow members of The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy think it will help our cause if I join this party.
Secondly, it will be a good vehicle to travel with other activists like Medha Patkar and Arvind Kejriwal.
What difference can you can make as a politician that an activist cannot?
I will continue to push the people’s agenda. I will try to be honest and transparent.
(laughing) I said try because I am honest, you know that.
But there are so many people I will be working with. I cannot vouch for all of them.
Is it true that you are contesting the elections? You cannot leave Idinthakarai to file your nomination or canvas, the police will arrest you. How will you deal with that?
The party will decide whether I contest or not. I will have to leave the village to file my nomination.
Let us wait and see what happens. Let them arrest me.
George Fernandes was in prison during the Emergency. He won with a handsome margin. I don’t have to travel in the hot summer and canvas.
I can sit happily in prison while they make me a martyr and a winner (laughs).
Are you contesting from Tirunelveli or Kanyakumari?
That the party will decide.
Tirunelveli votes on caste lines and Kanyakumari is a district divided on communal lines, how will you overcome that?
The whole state is casteist.
Our slogan will be look for the candidate’s qualities and commitment and not his caste or religion.
I am a secular person. Most people are secular. There are a few communal elements that stir up trouble. We will fight that.
Who are the AAP leaders in Tamil Nadu?
Christina Swamy from Karur is a woman activist. She is the state coordinator. David Barun Kumar is the head of the state campaign committee.
What did you think when Kejriwal quit as Delhi chief minister?
Now he can go back with an absolute majority.
In Delhi they got volunteers easily thanks to Anna Hazare’s agitation and the Delhi gang-rape that brought the youth onto the streets, how will you get volunteers? The going rate is Rs 2,000 per head per day.
(laughs again) That doesn’t apply to us. I have been leading an agitation for three years now.
We have thousands of volunteers who have never been paid in cash or kind.
After winning the Delhi election against the Congress the AAP took its support, will this happen again at the national level?
I don’t think so. The Congress will be gone from the political scene.
I hope there is no such political exigency.
Between the Congress and the BJP, which is the lesser evil?
No lesser evil. Both are two sides of the same evil coin.
The Church supported your agitation, will it support your politics?
The Church did not support our agitation. This parish priest supported us. It is the people who supported us.
Will AAP join the Third Front post the election?
No idea! I am not in the decision making committee.
You have over 350 cases against you, what are you doing about that?
I am not thinking about that now. If I am asked by my party to contest, I will go to file my nomination. The Tamil Nadu government has to worry about my cases.
DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) leader M K Stalin made an appeal that cases against us should be withdrawn.
As the elections get closer, many more politicians will make this demand. I am not worried either way.
Image: S P Udaykumar. Photograph: A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com