With less than a month to go for General Elections 2009, the Congress-led UPA coalition is showing clear signs of disintegration. Some of its key allies - the RJD, the LJP and the SP - have made their rebellion public and one of them - Anbumani Ramadoss' PMK - has moved out. Ramadoss is all set to resign as the Health Minister but tells CNN-IBN he wants to maintain a "good relation" with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and PM Manmohan Singh.
CNN-IBN: You are shifting sides after five years in power with Congress. Is this not political opportunism?
Abumani Ramadoss: Opportunism is when you go against the wishes of your cadre to stay in power. Today, my cadre has overwhelmingly voted. In fact it was a democratic process where we had 2,450 votes for the AIADMK front and only 150 votes for the DMK front.
So overwhelmingly, 97 per cent of my cadres have voted for the AIADMK front. Where is the opportunism in this? I don't see this as opportunism.
CNN-IBN: You have done so ahead of every election. Is power the only thing on the agenda for PMK?
Abumani Ramadoss: Absolutely not. In Tamil Nadu, ever since 1967, every party had gone with every other party. DMK had gone with BJP, then it went with Congress. AIADMK had done the same thing with BJP and Congress, time and again.
I don't see why you are pointing fingers only at the PMK. See, we have our compulsions, it does not have to do with only power. Here in Tamil Nadu you have a Big Brother attitude of these parties.
You have cadre sentiments, which is a ground reality. The cadre is the one who is going to fight the elections. If they don't see eye to eye, then there is no point joining together. So there are a lot of issues. Power is not the only thing which we go by.
CNN-IBN: You say you have a good equation with Mrs Gandhi. Is the Congress a post-poll possibility?
Abumani Ramadoss: We have come out of the UPA now. We will be joining the AIADMK front. Post polls, all my leaders will have to get together and see what is there. They will take a call only after the elections. I can't say anything now even though we have had a good relation with the Congress. In fact, in the last five years I have had good relations with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
In fact she had been honorable and respectable. At personal level, I will continue to have personal relations with both of them. But then politics is different, personal is different.
CNN-IBN: In Your tenure you have antagonised several people including Shah Rukh Khan ?
Abumani Ramadoss: I was just doing my job as the Health Minister. The duty of a Health Minister is to enlighten the public about the ill effects of alcohol, tobacco, junk food or unhealthy lifestyle and that's what I did.
It's just not pointing out to a Shah Rukh Khan or an Amitabh Bachchan or anybody. Anybody would do the same thing. Shah Rukh Khan is one of the better known actors. In fact I am also his fan, I am also selfish. I want him to live longer. Quit smoking, you live longer, engine lasts longer.