Cho Ramaswamy is a conservative Tamil editor-journalist, political commentator, advocate, actor and playwright who’s often seen on English news channels when issues relating to Tamil Nadu are debated. And this is a interview that Rediff did with him in 1997, the 50th year of India’s independence. Some quotes-

Communism and Capitalism
Q. Were you at any time influenced by Communism?
A. I have always been against Communism. In fact, one of the first series of articles which I wrote in Tuglaq 26 years back was titled ‘Moscow – our capital’ taking to task the then Indira Gandhi government for being subservient to Moscow. I have been against Communism because it is against the nature of man. A talented man cannot be asked to be satisfied with what a man totally devoid of talent is able to obtain from life. Communism makes machines of men.

Q. But what about social equality that is advocated by Communism?
A. There is no equality in nature. You cannot go against it. Have the Communists themselves been able to bring about the kind of equality in society? They have provided themselves and members of the Communist party with all comforts in Russia and in China. How then can you say that they have brought about equality?

Q. Capitalism has always been projected as anti-society and anti-poor because it widens the gap between members of society.
A. It is not anti-poor. When capitalism thrives, the poor get to be employed usefully and profitably.

Q. Why are our intellectuals against capitalism?
A. It is the other way around. Those who are against capitalism are supposed to be intellectuals. Those who advocate capitalism are supposed to be reactionaries and not intellectuals. A reactionary cannot be anything but an intellectual.

Q. We have so many undertrials in prisons in India.
A. So far I have not followed up on this. I feel sorry for that. These remand prisoners are kept with convicts. Is it right? These people who are yet to face a charge, a trial, yet to be convicted by a court are placed in the same cells with the convicts. There should be a separate arrangement for them. That could even be a multistoreyed apartment complex with all conveniences. It is totally unethical on the part of the State to keep them along with the convicts.

Secularism and BJP
Q. Why is it that all the other political parties see the BJP as a threat to the nation? They say the BJP is communal in outlook. At the same time they ally with casteist parties.
A. The other parties are casteist. As far as communalism is concerned, the BJP is not out to harm the Muslims. In my opinion, that is not the plan or idea of the party at all. The other parties perceive it (the BJP) as a common threat because if the other votes get split, in many northern states and probably in Karnataka, the BJP will be the largest vote getter. Not only the largest single party.

I would personally like the BJP to abandon this temple politics. It is not a very encouraging sight to see sadhus with huge big beards, holding tridents in their hands and asking you to vote for a particular party. It is not canvassing, it is threatening. The BJP should get rid of this association.

It might have helped them at a particular moment when V P Singh was trying to divide the BJP vote by promoting the Mandal concept. He succeeded to an extent, but it recoiled on him later.

At that particular time, the temple politics might have helped them but it is high time they gave it up. And I think the BJP leadership is aware of it, particularly Advani.

Q. Why are the so-called intellectuals and media anti-BJP?
A. Everyone is very much concerned about a secular image without understanding the concept of secularism. No editor would like to be called communal. The moment you support the BJP, you are branded communal. Secularism in India is defined as an anti-BJP stance. If you are anti-BJP, you are secular. You may hobnob with the Muslim League, still you are secular because you are opposed to the BJP.

Read the complete interview.

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