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DMK will revive Sethusamudram project, promises repeal of CAA

Updated – March 21, 2024 at 09:21 AM.

Manifesto accent on welfare; wants due share of tax pool

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief MK Stalin with party leaders TR Baalu, Kanimozhi, A Raja and others releases the party’s candidates’ list and manifesto during a party meeting, in Chennai


Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief MK Stalin with party leaders TR Baalu, Kanimozhi, A Raja and others releases the party’s candidates’ list and manifesto during a party meeting, in Chennai
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The DMK party has said in its election manifesto that it would revive the controversial Sethusamudram project, (dredging a canal in the Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka), which the party says is a “150-year dream of the people of Tamil Nadu”.

The manifesto says that the project was initiated on July 2, 2005, and ₹2,427 crore had been spent on it “before it was stalled by regressive forces.”

The manifesto, which is polemical on politics (riving BJP and AIADMK) and high on welfare, makes several promises in sync with the Dravidian ideology. “The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) will be repealed,” it says, while promising citizenship for Tamils affected by ethnic conflicts in Sri Lanka. The Uniform Civil Code, “which takes away the rights of minorities” will not be implemented, it says. It promises to make efforts to “implement reservation for minorities.” It promises that the “Foreign Exchange Regulation Act will be properly amended” so that financial aid “continues to reach NGOs without any problems.” (The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act is the legislation that governs financial aid to NGOs.)

Left-leaning

The tension that Tamil Nadu has had with the federal government clearly reflects in the manifesto. It promises efforts to ensure that State governors are appointed only in consultation with the State governments. It rues that the State is not getting its due share of the tax pool and says that “the financial distribution to States will be ensured to not be less than 33 per cent of the taxes collected within the State and the financial contribution to States will not be less than three times the revenue collected.”

Further, “It will be proposed that the Finance Commission increase the horizontal devolution of tax revenue (to all States together) from 42 per cent to 50 per cent.” The left incline of DMK shines through the manifesto.

It promises a new law to curb price increase of construction materials. It wants to bring back essential commodities like fuels under ‘administered pricing mechanism’ but also promises to fix prices of petrol, diesel, and LPG cylinder prices at ₹75, ₹65 and ₹500 respectively.

Another promise is to increase funding for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to “at least ₹1,50,000 crore per year. Also, a new law will be enacted under the “Urban Employment Scheme” like the MGNREGA, 2005. Further, it wants to withdraw the Agnipath scheme and “reintroduce” permanent recruitment into armed forces. The DMK is in favour of linking Godavari and Cauvery rivers.

Interestingly, the manifesto is heavy on railways. The head ‘railways’ has the most number of points — 18 — and the promises made for individual constituencies are replete with railway-related actions.

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