With less than a month to go for Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu, the DMK has released a 100-point manifesto on Tuesday. Several of their promises emphasise federalism and Tamil sentiment when it comes to a host of schemes or programmes implemented by the BJP-led Centre over the past five years. The most prominent of this being the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test or NEET. The DMK has gone a step forward, seeking not just that the state be exempt from NEET but that the medical entrance test be abolished altogether.
The 76-page manifesto, released by party President MK Stalin, says, "The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) which is being presently enforced for selection to admissions for graduate and post graduate courses in medical colleges is against the interest of the poor, rural and oppressed class students, across the country. In the interest of social justice, DMK will strive for the abolition of NEET forthwith."
The DMK has further sought that Education be brought back into the state list from the concurrent list. They have also promised to waive off the education loans given to students from BC, MBC and SC/ST communities.
The party has also promised to bring in an IIT in Madurai, and two more AIIMS in Tamil Nadu. Incidentally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently laid the foundation stone for AIIMS in Madurai.
Continuing to oppose Hindi imposition, the DMK states that it will strive to make Tamil as a Union official language. The manifesto also states that it will urge the Centre to make Tamil an official language in central government offices in Tamil Nadu, and a court language in the Madras High Court.
Highlighting the ideals of federalism, the DMK manifesto states that the party will work for the setting up of ‘Regional Council of States’ to address common problems and concerns. Besides pressing for the scrapping of Article 356 which provides for the dismissal of elected state governments, the DMK’s manifesto has also urged that Governors be appointed by the President from a list of three eminent persons suggested by the Chief Minister.
The DMK has further demanded a larger devolution of fund to states.
"60 percent of the total tax revenue of the Centre should be shared with the states. The DMK insists that the constitution of the Finance Commission and its terms of reference should be decided only in the Inter-State Council," reads the manifesto. "The criteria for allocation of tax revenue should give equal weightage for performance and equity factors so that developed states like Tamil Nadu also get their due share to encourage their further growth which, in turn, will support the country's development as a whole," it states.
Furthermore, the DMK has also made statehood for Puducherry as one of its key promises in the manifesto.
Compensation to victims of demonetisation
Moving on to financial planning, the DMK President alleged that the BJP had destroyed the country's economy. And under the section 'Economy' of its manifesto, the party has promised 'Compensation to victims of Demonetisation'.
"On 8-11-2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, without consulting Reserve Bank of India or renowned economists announced the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currencies which came as a rude shock to the people of India. Subsequent to this, all over the country large number of people stood in long queues in front of banks for hours together to change the demonetised notes. In this ordeal more a hundred persons lost their valuable live. Families of the victims who lost their lives while standing in the bank queue for changing demonetised votes will be compensated adequately."
The manifesto does not dwell upon how much compensation will be given or in what form said compensation will be. It has also criticised the present GST regime that has been launched by the BJP government in 'undue haste' and accused it of causing difficulties to business and trade. The party promises to bring acceptable GST rate 'to mitigate all the troubles through GST council'.
Reservation in private sector
Further, the DMK which has positioned itself as a champion of lower castes and minority communities has also promised to bring in a law for the protection of women against cyber crimes. It has also controversially promised reservation in the private sector too.
"The employment opportunities provided in Government and public sector units are very low. Moreover, in view of the public sector units being gradually privatised, reservation should be hereafter compulsory followed in private sector too. That only will be just and appropriate outcome of social justice...Hence the DMK will continue to urge the Centre for compulsorily following reservations system in private sector also."
The DMK in pace with the multitude of protests in the state, has also promised to put a stop to the Salem eight-way project and instead widen the existing routes. In addition to this they have assured that projects detrimental to the environment will be rejected. Amongst the other assurances are the release of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, resolving the Katchatheevu issue, citizenship for Sri Lakan Tamil refugees, protection of the state’s fishermen and an improved pension scheme.