Subscription Subscription
Home > News > India News > Article > Pon Radhakrishnan The BJP man who preaches togetherness

Pon Radhakrishnan: The BJP man who preaches togetherness

Updated on: 16 April,2024 05:42 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Krishna Kumar Padmanabhan |

mid-day speaks exclusively to Pon Radhakrishnan about his journey to the polls and what is different this time around

Pon Radhakrishnan: The BJP man who preaches togetherness

Pic/Krishnakumar Padmanabhan

Irrespective of their voting preferences, every random Nagercoil-Kanyakumari resident mid-day spoke with has only good things to say about BJP candidate Pon Radhakrishnan. They are also happy with the work he does for the region, both during his two terms as MP and even when he is out of power. Taking time off from the tough task of making the PM’s public rally later on Monday evening, Ponnar, as he is fondly called, sat down with mid-day for an interview during the early hours of Monday at his Nagercoil office.

Have you analysed the reasons behind your 2019 defeat?
Yes. The opposition alliance was able to spread the sense and convince the voters here that Modi-ji was not going to get a second term nationally, and that Rahul Gandhi will become the next PM. They convincingly sold this lie.

What have you done about it and changed this time?
I did not have to do anything. Now, everyone knows Modi-ji will get a historic third term. Then there are also differences creeping into the opposition alliance this time. There are elements in the DMK that are unhappy with the Congress candidate Vijay Vasanth. Just the other day, Congress workers beat up Communist workers over some differences.

What issues have you been raising during campaigning?
See, over the last five years, central projects worth Rs 48,000 crore have been stopped. Some even due to DMK interference… like the four-laning of the highway here. On the other hand, despite not being the MP, I have gotten sanctions for at least R141 crore worth of central funds. The people of Kanyakumari have great love for our PM.

How are you handling the Hindu-Christian arithmetic?
I am not one to seek help from organisations or to go to missionaries for their support. Having said that, I treat every voter—Hindu or Christian—as an individual and seek their votes across the constituency. The feedback I have got is that this time I will get more Christian votes than ever.

You have been around since Vajpayee’s time, and have a big role in growing the BJP in the region. Tell us how you did it.
It took a lot of groundwork, and from Day 1 we always worked on winning over the fence-sitters. No harm in telling you today, there were days when two party men would be on stage and two more would act as an audience. Then, these two would go up to the stage to give a speech and the other two would listen. There was a point when we wondered if all this was worth the effort. The Mandaikadu riots turned it around for us. [In March 1982, six fishermen were killed in police firing. In the violence that followed, 15 civilians and 25 policemen were seriously injured. All this was preceded by clashes between Christian fishermen and Hindus during a local temple festival.] Today, I don’t want to go into who was right and who was in the wrong. But at that time, we did a lot of relief work irrespective of which community was affected. And that established the BJP here.

What’s your message to the public with just four days to voting?
Vote for anyone. But let it be a sincere candidate who will work for the people here. There are close to 20 lakh people in this constituency. We have to work together. We don’t need to be divided.

"Exciting news! Mid-day is now on WhatsApp Channels Subscribe today by clicking the link and stay updated with the latest news!" Click here!

Register for FREE
to continue reading !

This is not a paywall.
However, your registration helps us understand your preferences better and enables us to provide insightful and credible journalism for all our readers.

Mid-Day Web Stories

Mid-Day Web Stories

This website uses cookie or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. OK