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Poll promises made by the AIADMK and DMK are unworkable

Several of the key promises made by both parties cannot be implemented because they come under Centre’s domain

editorials Updated: Mar 21, 2019 17:08 IST
Hindustan Times
An election rally, Chennai, March 6. While political analysts may say that votes are rarely cast on the basis of party manifestos and will be based on issues, personalities, caste, region and religion, the Dravidian majors -- the AIADMK and DMK -- have exposed the developing fault lines between the states and the Centre on who has more say in shaping voters’ lives.(AFP)

Tamil Nadu (TN) has been something of a pioneer in robust social welfare schemes, from the mid-day meal to incentives of the girl child. However, the manifestos of the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)  are disappointing in that they offer nothing more than a repeat of these schemes. Several of the key promises made by both parties cannot be implemented because they come under Centre’s domain. Both promise to release the killers of former PM Rajiv Gandhi. The TN assembly has even unanimously passed a resolution recommending it. But it is the Governor (who is appointed by the Centre) who will have to take a political decision in this regard. Both parties say that they will ensure Puducherry becomes a state from its current status as a Union Territory; but the state has no power to execute such a transition.

Both manifestos also highlight the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils. The AIADMK even promises Indian citizenship to them. Even if a DMK-supported government comes to power at the Centre, this is a proposal which will not be easy to implement. The DMK also says that up to Rs 8 lakh would be exempt from income tax, a decision that is neither the state government’s to make, nor to implement.

However, a number of common proposals in the manifestos may be attractive to voters across three southern states.One example is the matter of interlinking rivers across states. The other is the proposal by the AIADMK, which says it will credit Rs 1,500 every month into the bank account of families that live below the poverty line. The DMK says it will fix a minimum pension at Rs 8,000. Given the clamour for some form of Universal Basic Income across the country, the state’s parties may be ahead of the curve on this issue. Other promises, such as a separate budget for agriculture being presented or a separate ministry for fisheries, are likely to gain traction going forward.

While political analysts may say that votes are rarely cast on the basis of party manifestos and will be based on issues, personalities, caste, region and religion, the Dravidian majors have exposed the developing fault lines between the states and the Centre on who has more say in shaping voters’ lives.

First Published: Mar 20, 2019 20:19 IST