Tamil Nadu BJP leader Khushbu Sundar in a file photo.

Khushbu interview: 'I follow Karunanidhi’s advice; DMK has forgotten it'

"All I said was women are better off with TASMAC shops closed than with a Rs 1,000 monthly scheme payout; why am I being trolled by DMK cadres?"

Actor and BJP leader Khushbu Sundar is facing a backlash in Tamil Nadu for her remarks criticising the financial assistance given to women in the state. She had referred to the aid as ‘pitchai’, or alms.

Talking on the sidelines of the protest against the drug menace last week organised by her party, the Khushbu questioned the DMK about action taken to close down TASMAC liquor shops and curb the drug menace in the state. “Will women vote for the DMK just because it gives away monthly assistance of ₹1,000, because it gives pitchai?” she had asked.

She added that people would not have to receive ₹1,000 in “alms” if the ruling party closed down state-run TASMAC outlets and helped women to save the money spent on liquor by the working class.

Following her remarks, protests were organised in several parts of Tamil Nadu by the DMK women’s wing, setting her posters on fire. Khushbu later took to social media platform X to clarify her stance and said that the women wouldn’t need the money if the state government made them independent.

The Federal spoke on the phone to Khushbu Sundar, a national executive committee member of the BJP and National Commission for Women (NCW) member, about her remarks and the protests it triggered. Excerpts:

Several protests are being organised in Tamil Nadu by DMK cadres, both online and offline, against your comment on the Kalaignar Magalir Urimai Thogai (Women’s Basic Income Scheme), where underprivileged women receive ₹1,000 every month. You mentioned the word pitchai, which has stirred a controversy...

DMK cadres who are protesting against me did not listen to my full speech. They have just seen an edited portion of my speech. I had delivered the speech in the campaign against the drug menace in Chennai. I explained that if the DMK government takes effective steps to close down TASMAC, there is no need to provide assistance to women.

This (women's) scheme is being propagated in a big way by the DMK party, while the party has failed to reduce alcohol addiction in the state. Alcoholism has ruined Tamil Nadu. Many families are in a bad shape only because of that.

In this context, I said that instead of giving assistance, the DMK government should close down the TASMAC shops and the men would automatically give the money for the upkeep of the families, and the women would lead their lives with dignity.

What is your take on the various financial assistance schemes given to women? In particular, the DMK government’s scheme to support women?

It’s not enough when we give assistance to women and farmers for the service they do. I mean, it is never enough…any amount of money cannot compensate for the amount of work they do.

As a woman, I understand the difficulties that every woman who runs a family goes through. It was in this context that I brought up the issue about the financial assistance given by the DMK government. Shutting TASMAC shops would actually help women instead of giving them assistance.

Any reasonable person would consider my views. I am not against assistance, but the manner in which it is devised. When the government makes money from TASMAC and gives away a few hundred rupees as assistance, what difference will it make? But DMK cadres are trolling me without even listening to my speech.

There were many instances where senior DMK ministers like K Ponmudy mentioned the free bus scheme for women in Tamil Nadu as 'osi (freebie) bus'. Now, DMK cadres chose to abuse me without even understanding the facts and the past events.

You mentioned in your tweets that you are being intimidated and also shared a message with DMK leader and Chief Minister MK Stalin in your tweets. What was the response?

It has almost been a week now. I am being trolled badly online. I did not delete any posts. Those posts show how the DMK is diverting from the real issue and focussing on one I said.

I always considered DMK leader Karunanidhi as my guru. He taught me that we should speak with confidence and also maintain political decorum and stage etiquette in our speeches. I have not forgotten his advice. I follow his advice till date, which many DMK cadres and senior leaders of the party seem to have forgotten.

I can see that many DMK party men are clueless and are abusing me to please their present-day leader. If the DMK decides to uplift women, let them field an equal number of women candidates in the upcoming elections and provide them equal opportunities in the party. That will be the real service.

Read More
Next Story