Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Thursday accused the BJP of trying to divert attention from its ”unfulfilled promises” by falsely claiming that the DMK is stoking separatism — all because his party is trying to hold the union government accountable for the saffron party’s pre-poll assurances. Addressing the DMK’s training programme for booth agents of the southern regions of Tamil Nadu at Ramanathapuram, Stalin alleged the BJP did not honour any of its electoral assurances, and went on to list the saffron party’s poll promises ahead of the 2014 and 2019 parliamentary polls.
Retrieval of black money stashed abroad, providing employment opportunities to two crore young people every year, and doubling of farmers’ income were among the unfulfilled promises that Stalin mentioned to support his claim.
On Tamil Nadu specific issues, the DMK chief said: ”Prime Minister Narendra Modi, before getting elected, spoke in Ramanathapuram in April 2014. He said Rameswaram would be transformed into an international tourist destination. Have they changed Rameswaram?” On March 1, 2019 Modi laid the foundation stone for the Rameswaram-Dhanushkodi rail link line. ”The 17-km Rameswaram-Dhanushkodi rail link is yet to materialise,” Stalin pointed out, adding that it was one of the several promises made by Modi ”only for the sake of polls”. Similar assurances were ”especially” made for Tamil Nadu by Modi and one of them is about the safety and security of TN fishermen. Modi had then blamed a ”weak Congress government” for the travails of the fishermen, who routinely face harassment and arrest by the Srilankan Navy. ”During the nine-year rule by Modi, have not the fishermen been assaulted by Lankan Navy? Who is responsible for the murder of Thangachimadam (Ramanathapuram district) fisherman Britto in 2017?
Stalin cited other similar incidents, including the impounding of boats and arrest of fishermen by Sri Lanka, and said it demonstrated that the regime led by Modi is ”weak”. The AIIMS project for Tamil Nadu, announced in 2015 by the Centre, has taken approximately nine years to reach the stage of calling for tenders. ”It is not known if they will expeditiously construct the hospital or not. It is not clear if this (tender process) is also a drama for the sake of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.” Since the DMK has been raising such issues, the party is being attacked by the BJP. “They are changing the direction (of political discourse) by claiming that we are instigating separatism. They are uttering a lie.”
Referring to Tamil Nadu Public Works Minister E V Velu’s recent speech, Stalin said the minister had only commented that though the party had once upon a time demanded ”Dravidian land”, today the responsibility to protect India as a whole is with the party. Velu’s remarks were clearly aimed at guarding India’s integrity, he asserted. ”Where is separatism in his speech,” he asked. A distorted version of the minister’s comment was forwarded and, as a result, union ministers and the prime minister reacted and commented on it in Parliament. DMK leader and MP T R Baalu had on August 11 conveyed to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla that Modi and Union Minister Smriti Irani had ”misquoted” Velu in Parliament and that such ”misleading and defamatory”,’ remarks should be expunged.
Baalu cited the replies of Irani and Modi to the discussion on the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha on August 9 and 10 respectively. Stalin said, ”I would like to tell him (Modi) that in the past when the DMK had demanded ’Dravida Nadu’ (Dravidian land), M G Ramachandran (MGR, former Chief Minister and AIADMK founder) was with the DMK.” He further said, ”Modi should know such facts. It is unbecoming of a Prime Minister to believe all the messages forwarded in his party-run ’Whatsapp University’ as history. The top DMK leader advised all central ministers to read the book ’The Crooked Timber of New India’ authored by Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s husband Dr Parakala Prabhakar.
On Modi in Parliament quoting Tamil Nadu’s former leaders like MGR, Kamaraj and APJ Abdul Kalam, the DMK chief sarcastically remarked that Modi criticised the DMK by ”borrowing” leaders from other parties, since his own party does not have leaders of stature. ”If the PM, Home Minister or Finance Minister is criticising the DMK, the meaning is that the party is functioning in the correct manner,” he remarked. ”Our ideology (Social justice-led Dravidian model of governance) should become the principle that will lead the Union government. To ensure that, we must win 39 LS constituencies in Tamil Nadu and one LS seat in Puducherry,” he said.
He asserted that the opposition alliance INDIA, of which the DMK is a part, is all set to protect India.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)