DMK manifesto promises to remove privileges of Governor, scrap NEP

The party in its manifesto for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections has promised to lower the prices of LPG cylinders, petrol, and diesel.
DMK releases manifesto ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
DMK releases manifesto ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
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The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has promised to scrap the controversial NEET exam, the National Education Policy (NEP), the CAA, and UCC, in its manifesto for the 2024 General Elections. The party, which is part of the INDIA alliance and is contesting in 21 of the 39 Lok Sabha constituencies in Tamil Nadu, released its manifesto on Wednesday and made a list of promises including lowering the prices of LPG cylinders to Rs 500, and bringing down petrol and diesel prices. The manifesto also promises to ensure that the number of Parliament seats that Tamil Nadu has will not decrease in the delimitation exercise. These will be the agenda items of the DMK if the INDIA alliance comes to power at the Union government level.   

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK president MK Stalin released the manifesto at a press meet held on Wednesday, March 20. The DMK has promised to remove Article 361 of the Constitution, which protects Governors of states against criminal proceedings during their time in office. The Tamil Nadu state government has had a prolonged discord with Governor RN Ravi on several issues. The conflicts range from the appointment of Vice Chancellors to state-run universities, assent to bills, resolution to release those convicted for Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, and most recently, the row over the re-induction of DMK’s Ponmudy to the Cabinet.

Further, the party has promised that a caste census will be conducted and that it will grant citizenship for Sri Lankan Tamils who have sought refuge in the state.

Here are some of the promises in the manifesto:

  • Tamil Nadu will be exempted from the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) examinations

  • The New Education Policy (NEP) will be abolished.

  • Petrol, diesel, and LPG prices will be reduced to Rs 75, Rs 65 and Rs 500 respectively.

  • The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) will be repealed.

  • The Uniform Civil Code (UCC)  will not be implemented.

  • Caste census and census concerning the people below poverty line will be conducted simultaneously, once in every five years by the Union government.

  • Education and healthcare, transferred to the Concurrent List during the emergency, will be reverted to the State List.

  • Exemption from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be provided for essentials such as rice, oil, pulses, wheat, and cereal types.

  • The composition and factors to decide the devolution of funds by the Finance Commission will be determined only within the state council.

  • Tamils affected by ethnic conflicts in Sri Lanka who sought refuge in Tamil Nadu, and those of Indian descent known as Hill Country Tamils and their children, housed in refugee camps since the 1964 Shastri-Sirimavo Bandaranaike India-Sri Lanka agreement, will be facilitated to obtain Indian citizenship. Additionally, measures will be taken by the new Union government to grant Indian citizenship to Sri Lankan Tamil relatives who have been permitted to stay in camps for over 35 years. Furthermore, all necessary assistance will be provided to those among them who wish to return to Sri Lanka.

  • The successful implementation of the Union Government's family planning program by the Tamil Nadu Government led to a decrease in population, resulting in the reduction of parliamentary constituencies from 41 to 39 during the constituency delimitation in 1971. Based on the amended law in 2002, the Union Government decided to maintain the number of constituencies at their previous level due to the insistence of the states, and the number of constituencies continues on this basis. The DMK assures that this status will continue during the upcoming constituency delimitation as well.

  • Constitutional values such as equality, fraternity, secularism, social justice, and democracy will be made comprehensible to children by including education on the Constitution of India as a subject.

  • Comprehensive mental health programs will be implemented in schools to reduce the suicide rates among adolescents and improve students' life skills.

  • Public health programs will be allocated 3% of the nation's GDP. 

  • Waiver of educational loans for students.  

  • A monthly entitlement of Rs. 1000 for all women in every state.

  • DMK will insist that the Union government enact a law providing menstrual leave to women, emphasising the journey towards gender equality.

  • A unified national law will be created to safeguard the rights and minimum wages of domestic workers. A tripartite committee will be formed to regularise the employment of domestic workers, ensure their social security, and address their grievances.

  • A mandatory cooling-off period of 2 years will be introduced for retired judges and secretaries before joining private companies or political parties.

  • State status will be restored to the bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir, and democratic elections will be conducted for the state legislature immediately.

  • The construction of AIIMS Madurai will be expedited, and efforts will be made to bring AIIMS to 4 more regions in Tamil Nadu. 

  • The DMK’s breakfast scheme will be implemented in all schools across states and union territories. 

  • The Indian Constitution, under Article 130, states that branches of the Supreme Court can be established in specified locations. Consequently, efforts will be made to establish a branch of the Supreme Court in Chennai.

  • The DMK firmly insists on the removal of Article 356, which allows the dissolution of duly elected state governments by President’s Rule, maintaining its decades-long stand on this issue.

  • Tamil will be declared as a Co-Official Language in Union government offices in Tamil Nadu, ensuring that all Union government offices, institutions and nationalized banks in Tamil Nadu operate in Tamil as well, with relevant amendments to Section 343 of the Indian Constitution to be introduced by the new government.

  • The Union government's 2023-2024 budget allocates Rs 1487 crore for the development of Hindi and only Rs 74 crore for Tamil. The new government in the Union will ensure equal funding for the development of all state languages.

  • The Agnipath scheme will be withdrawn. Permanent recruitment service for Indian Armed Forces personnel will be reintroduced.

  • The recommendations of the MS Swaminathan committee will be adopted, ensuring that agricultural products' MSP is set at total production cost + 50%.

  • An online gambling prohibition law will be introduced at the national level.

  • Efforts to construct the Mekedatu Dam will be stopped to protect the welfare of farmers in the delta region and to ensure water supply to various parts of Tamil Nadu.

On Wednesday, the party president Stalin also announced DMK’s list of candidates for the upcoming elections, where DMK is contesting in 21 of the 39 Lok Sabha constituencies with allies Congress (9), Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (2), CPI (2), CPI(M)(2), MDMK(1), IUML(1) and KMDK(1) making up the remaining seats in the total 39 seats in the state. The list of 21 candidates included 19 incumbent MPs, who will retain their respective constituencies, as well as 11 new faces.

Tamil Nadu will go to polls in the first phase of elections, on April 19. 

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