Going into 2019 Lok Sabha Elections with the BJP as its ally, the AIADMK’s manifesto focusses on a number of issues that have been a point of contention between the Centre and state in the last five years. From NEET and GST to the Mekedatu dam project, the AIADMK’s 46-page manifesto that was released by Deputy Chief Minister and party coordinator O Panneerselvam on Tuesday, makes a number of electoral assurances to Tamil Nadu’s voters.
The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) that has been a source of anger and protests across Tamil Nadu following the suicide of Anitha, a Dalit student in 2017, found mention under AIADMK manifesto’s ‘Education Policy’. “AIADMK will urge Government of India to exempt Tamil Nadu students for such time till they reach the standard and knowledge of the Improved New Syllabus, from NEET Examination for professional courses,” states the manifesto.
While the AIADMK states that it will urge the Centre to bring Education from concurrent list to the state list, the party also promises that it will urge the Government of India to provide free higher education to all children as a national policy.
The Good and Services Tax (GST), which former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had vociferously opposed, was another key electoral assurance by the AIADMK. The party manifesto points out that GST has resulted in huge revenue loss for the state and therefore, the AIADMK will urge the Government of India “to amend again the Constitution Amendment Act 101 of of 2016 and thereby fix a 100% devolution of GST revenue to the state of Tamil Nadu for 5 years.”
The AIADMK also promises that it will urge the Union government to devolve 60% of its tax revenue to the States based on 1971 Census. Several south Indian leaders including the opposition DMK had last year questioned the use of 2011 Census for the 15th Finance Commission to allocate funds to states, arguing that it would penalise those states that had controlled its population while rewarding those who had not. In fact, the ruling AIADMK had chosen to not participate at the south Finance Ministers conclave that held in Thiruvananthapuram last April to deliberate on the ‘unjust’ Terms of Reference of the 15th Finance Commission.
Cauvery and Mekedatu
While the Narendra Modi-led government has been accused by the opposition in Tamil Nadu of betraying the state’s interests in a number of issues including the Cauvery water dispute and in particular the Mekedatu dam project in Karnataka, the party manifesto reads, “AIADMK will strongly urge that the proposal for the construction of Mekedatu in Karnataka is totally given up by Government of India and by Government of Karnataka in order to protect the irrigation and drinking water requirements of Tamil Nadu.”
This apart, the AIADMK also assured that it would urge the central government to ensure the monthly supply of Cauvery water as ordered by the Supreme Court. The manifesto also mentions the linking of rivers Cauvery and Godavari and nationalisation of all rivers as a key promise.Furthermore, it would also not allow Kerala to build a new dam across Mullaiperiyar river or to increase the height of the existing dam to 152 feet.
Welfare of women and backward classes
The party also promises to fight for passing the Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament. “Since there has been no unanimity among the political parties, the Bill providing 33% Reservation for Women, though introduced in Lok Sabha, did not see the light of the day.”
Another feature that stood apart in the manifesto is the attempt made by the AIADMK to appeal to the voters belonging to the SC, ST, MBC and the BC categories. The party has promised a new legislation which would implement reservation for the people of the above said communities for jobs in the private sector. The party has also promised to protect the rights of the people from the SC, ST, MBC and BC communities who convert to Islam or Christianity.
In a bit to appeal to those from the minority communities, the manifesto states, “AIADMK will urge Government of India not to bring any amendments to the Constitution for a Uniform Civil Code that will adversely affect the religious rights of minorities of India.”
In addition to these promises, the AIADMK has also promised to release the seven persons convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, reclamation of Katchatheevu from Sri Lanka, making Tamil one of the official languages of India and full statehood for Puducherry.
Source: The News Minute