Jayalalithaa gave a rare interview to ToI recently. Full interview here: http://tinyurl.com/yf3fcbx
The following answers caught my attention.
“Q:How do you assess the UPA governments performance
A: They have a difficult task on their hands. Apart from the economic situation , they have to address themselves to the problem of national security. I dont think the Indian armed forces today are equal to the challenge posed by China. So more attention must be paid by the Centre on strengthening of our armed forces, providing them the latest equipment, and motivating them with more perks and concessions. “
Note that she has stayed clear of the inflation issue and concentrated on a more generic external security one. Clear signs of future bonhomie with the UPA?
“Q: The calling card of the DMK over the last four years from what we can see is that it has been very strong on welfare schemes.
A: You cant call distribution of freebies welfare schemes. You must enable the people to buy things themselves. If a state government spends money on starting local industries and provides employment to the local people there, that will enable them to send their children to good schools. And those children when they grow up will get good jobs and earn good salary. With that they can build their own concrete houses and buy their own colour TVs. That is the way you take society forward. But you cannot say that just because of distribution of freebies, the DMK govt has been able to consolidate its hold over the people. Thats a fallacy. Its an illusion . “
A very good answer that I completely endorse. But in the last state elections, Jayalalithaa herself changed tracks in the middle of the campaign to enter into a freebie contest with the DMK. Hope she does not do it the next time. The other track change that she did in the midst of the campaign on the SriLankan issue did not yield any result. Hopefully next time around she would stick to a consistent campaign.
“Q: Karunanidhi has announced his retirement plan in June.
A: Karunanidhi will not retire voluntarily from politics . He will not do it by himself. The people have to see that he retires. He just makes these statements for effect. He is known for doing flip-flops even within 24 hours.”
Few people know Karunanidhi as well as Jayalalithaa. It should hold true the other way too. Rest assured the ‘grand old man’ of ‘Tamil’ politics would not give up the reins voluntarily.
“Q:Are you a believer in destiny
A: Definitely. Because, I never planned this career for myself. I never ever thought that I would come to politics. Never ever dreamt that I would become the CM of the state. But it has happened. I had no preparation for this kind of life. In fact, you will be surprised to know that I havent even been educated properly in Tamil. I studied in Bishop Cotton Girls High School in Bangalore where the main medium of instruction was English. The choice of second language was only Hindi or Kannada. Since my mother tongue is Tamil, I decided to take Hindi. By the time, I came to Madras I was in advanced class. So at that time here, there was a choice between Hindi and Tamil. But if I had taken Tamil then, I would have been at the bottom of the class whereas I was coming first in all the subjects. So, I continued with Hindi. But, I had a tutor at home to teach me the basics of Tamil. Thats how I learnt how to read and write (Tamil). I never even dreamt that I would become a leader of a Dravidian party but I did. I am selfeducated in Tamil as in all other things.”
For someone who is self educated in Tamil, her command over the language is amazing. Two things I like about Jayalalithaa: her excellent command over both English and Tamil, and her fearless self-confidence.
“Q: Weve heard that you spend a lot of time reading.
A: That was during my acting days. Because I never ever wanted to be in films either. I wanted to take up an academic career. I wanted to become a lawyer or probably become a research scientist if I had been allowed to have my way. I had to join the film industry at the age of 16 straight after I completed my matriculation . I passed with honours. I was second in the state. I missed the first place by half a mark. So I was awarded scholarship . But I joined films. I had this passion for reading, for education. Though I couldnt go to college, I started educating myself. I always used to carry books with me wherever I went. Today, it is all coming in handy after I came to politics. Though I dont have a degree after my name, I am much better informed than many postgraduates.”
You know why this caught my attention right? Academic career!! Research scientist 🙂