EPS fears Centre, says Stalin as he launches DMK’s campaign for 2021 assembly polls
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president MK Stalin kick-started his campaign for the 2021 assembly elections in Tamil Nadu accusing chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami of being fearful of the BJP-led central government.Updated: Nov 20, 2020, 13:15 IST
DMK president MK Stalin kick-started his campaign for the 2021 assembly elections in Tamil Nadu accusing state chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) of making “a valiant state like Tamil Nadu lie down like a kitten at the BJP’s feet.
In a virtual public meeting titled, Tamizhagam Meetpom (let’s reclaim Tamil Nadu), Stalin accused the Centre of snatching rights from Tamil Nadu and the AIADMK government as being subservient to the Centre by remaining silent.
Stalin recalled that former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and H D Deve Gowda respected ‘Kalaigar’ (artiste referring to his father and late former chief minister M Karunanidhi) and Tamil Nadu.
“Though Delhi is the capital of India, Tamil Nadu is the capital of claiming rights,” Stalin said, paraphrasing Gowda. He added that it was Tamil Nadu that exemplified how the Centre can be a coalition of parties but states should be autonomous and “we have the responsibility to bring back our state’s autonomy.”
“There was a time when Delhi and the central government used to be scared of Tamil Nadu. But today EPS’s government is in fear of Delhi,” he said.
Stalin accused EPS and his deputy O Paneerselvam of silence, corruption and of being negligent to people’s welfare. He attributed this to wide-ranging issues including the police firing against anti-Sterlite protestors (2018) and the custodial deaths of the traders (Jayaraj and Bennicks in June 2020) in Thoothukudi, delay in payment of GST compensation dues, the state’s low ranking in ease of doing business and imposition of Hindi through National Education Policy.
Stalin criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for praising Tamil Nadu’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic saying how that is possible when the state has more than 7 lakh positive cases. “This is why I’m saying we have to reclaim Tamil Nadu,” Stalin said. “The coming elections aren’t for a change in governance. It is war.”
The AIADMK accused Stalin of misleading the public. “When the DMK was in power, they never reclaimed Tamil Nadu’s rights. They surrendered our rights and are now playing a dual act with the people,” AIADMK leader and fisheries minister D Jayakumar told HT.
“We lost Katchatheevu in 1974 to Sri Lanka because of which our fishermen are still affected.” This issue continues to haunt the DMK despite Karunanidhi stating that the DMK had opposed the Centre’s (led by Indira Gandhi) decision. “Didn’t Amma (Jayalalithaa) withdraw support to the (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee government in the 90s when they did not form a committee to resolve the Cauvery water dispute under the common minimum program,” Jayakumar said. “When the DMK was in power they didn’t confront the centre. They only used mild words.”
Stalin began the first of his series of campaign meetings via video conferencing in Erode district on November 1. Party cadres and the public were seated following social distancing norms inside private halls at 350 places in Erode to watch Stalin’s speech on giant screens. “At least 70,000 people attended,” said S Muthusamy, DMK’s Erode south district secretary. Throughout November, the video campaigns will continue in seven other districts- Thoothukudi, Madurai, Villupuram, Pudukottai, Virudhunagar, Vellore and Nilgiris, Muthusamy said.
On the ground too, Stalin has led protests focusing on social justice through reservation in education. On October 24, Stalin led DMK’s protest near the Raj Bhavan in Chennai for the urgent implementation of 7.5% reservation for government school students who clear NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) for undergraduate medical courses. This Bill was passed unanimously by the Tamil Nadu assembly in September.
On October 29, the AIADMK government passed an executive order through the state health secretary J Radhakrishanan to implement this legislation in the current academic year. The following day, Governor Banwarilal Purohit-- who delayed his decision for more than a month--gave his assent after seeing legal opinion from Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India.
“If DMK hadn’t consistently raised this issue, it would have been buried,” M Subramanian, DMK MLA who was in the frontlines of the protest told HT. “It’s a victory for Stalin.”