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29 Feb 2024, Edition - 3152, Thursday

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Local body elections: Makkal Needhi Maiam to reach out to villages

Vidyashree Dharmaraj


Makkal Needhi Maiam has safe drinking water and sanitation as its top priorities, and says it will walk the talk. The Covai Post Editor Vidyashree Dharmaraj spoke to the party’s Pollachi representative Mookambika Rathinam to find out what the party’s plans are.

Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) has its work cut out for the local body elections in Tamil Nadu. The party opened its account in the 2019 parliamentary elections and though didn’t win any seat, it secured a significant vote share in urban and semi-urban constituencies in the state.

Now, with the local body elections waiting to happen, MNM is busy selecting candidates. The Covai Post caught up with MNM’s Pollachi representative Mookambika Rathinam, who spoke about her party’s ambitious foray into the elections.

“Local body elections will be a big opportunity to gauge public mood at the grassroots level and also test the party’s calibre in finding the right people to field.”
It is notable that MNM ate into the regional parties’ vote share in the Pollachi constituency.

Mookambika said their strategy as a nascent party would be to especially reaching out to the people in the villages and convince them about the party’s purpose and mission. “Constituencies in the Corporation and municipalities would be much easier to connect with and rate of success would be also more pronounced.”

MNM, which has roped in non-governmental organisations and volunteers to support them in this poll exercise, has safe drinking water and sanitation as some of its primary goals. “We have placed utmost importance to water availability, and would go big on rainwater harvesting initiatives and rejuvenation of water bodies to solve the water crisis.”

“We are a young party, but in this short period, we have caught the imagination of the people.”

She said MNM is working for people’s welfare in its own way. Party chief Kamal Haasan has initiated a skill development centre in his native town of Paramakudi, and this only the beginning, Mookambika said. “MNM plans to expand this programme across the state.”

“Our leader is also keen to minimise plastic use in the state, and has converted our party offices into no-plastic zones to set an example.”

“We are driven by welfare goals, and would like to see the changes happening on the ground.”

Mookambika will play a major role in motivating party workers and garnering support for candidates on the campaign trail. “We’ll try to be everywhere for every one of our party,” she said with a laugh.

Mookambika Rathinam, a keen traveller, was a reluctant politician. But “after joining the MNM, I have no regrets as the party is socially inclined”, she said.

Mookambika was picked by MNM for the grit she displayed and the mission she stood when she along with two other women completed a 70-day drive covering 24 countries to commemorate 70 years of Indian Independence. The drive from Coimbatore to London, ‘XPD 2470’, also promoted the cause literacy and women’s empowerment.

“My experience during this amazing journey gave me a lot of insight into town planning, and I wish to use this in my political career,” she said.

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