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In TN manifesto, BJP vows laws on prohibition and forceful conversion

Chennai: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday rolled out a dominant Hindutva pitch in its election manifesto for the April 6 Tamil Nadu elections, promising to enact legislations against cow slaughter and religious conversions through force or allurement
By Divya Chandrababu
PUBLISHED ON MAR 23, 2021 12:07 AM IST

Chennai: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday rolled out a dominant Hindutva pitch in its election manifesto for the April 6 Tamil Nadu elections, promising to enact legislations against cow slaughter and religious conversions through force or allurement. The party has also promised total prohibition in the state.

The manifesto, released by Union minister Nitin Gadkari in Chennai, also had several promises to appease the Tamil electorate as the BJP is pulling all stops to make its entry into the Dravidian land. The BJP, in alliance with the ruling AIADMK, is facing the elections in 20 assembly constituencies and a bypoll in the Kanyakumari parliamentary seat.

In a column titled ‘cow protection’, the BJP said that an ‘anti-cow slaughter Act’ will be “strictly implemented in the state” with a total ban on “smuggling of cows to Kerala and other states for beef and meat”. Goshalas will be established in temples to shelter cows “seized from cattle smugglers”, it added.

The party has also said that temple administration would be handed over to a separate board that would be formed with Hindu scholars and saints. “This would replace the system of a secular government controlling only the Hindu religious temples,” the manifesto read.

Stating that the right to freedom of religion is not the same as forcible religious conversions, BJP plans to enact “strict anti-conversion laws” to “criminalise religious conversion by force or allurement”. Promising total prohibition in a state where the state run liquor outlets- TASMAC is the highest revenue making business for the exchequer, the party said TASMAC employees who lose their jobs due to prohibition will be transferred to other government departments. Prohibition if often a talking point in Tamil Nadu elections and AIADMK and DMK have promised staggered shutting down of liquor outlets- a demand largely from the women electorate whose spouses are addicted to liquor and from anti-liquor activists. Total prohibition was in force in the state from 1937 to 1971 when the then DMK government headed by M Karunanidhi lifted it first.

Besides this for women’s welfare, BJP has promised one-lakh to be deposited in the name of a girl child born in below- the poverty line families and free driving license for two- wheelers for those aged between 18 and 23. BJP has said it will trifurcate the Greater Chennai Corporation like New Delhi.

To shed its image of being a north-Indian party imposing Hindi, the BJP has promised several measures for Tamils and the development of the language. A government order will be passed to make Tamil as the medium of instruction in public and private schools for classes 1 to 5. A stone inscription park for more than 1000 couplets from Thirukurral written by Tamil saintThiruvalluvar often quoted by Prime Minister Narendra will be set up in Erode district spanning 20-acres. Tamil will be announced as an official language at the Madras High Court by the party and its bench will be established in Coimbatore. A separate government will be created for Tamil migrants and the diaspora. Recommendations will be made to offer Indian citizenship to Sri Lankan refugees living in the state- a similar step made by their ally AIADMK in their manifesto. BJP has promised to make Tamil Nadu the number one state in south India in ease of doing business.

The party has also emphasised on sports by announcing to include Jallikattu players in the sports quota. A 10% reservation under sports quota in education institutions would be revived, it said, adding that efforts will be taken for local martial arts, Silambam, to be recognised as national sports.

The party has also stuck to its previous policies of National Education Policy and 10% reservation for economically poor people to be implemented fully. Like its ally AIADMK, BJP has also promised coaching centres to help students to clear NEET & other competitive exams which is a sensitive issue in the state. It has also promised free tablets for students of class 8 and 9 while the AIADMK promised 2G data to students and principal opposition, the DMK retained its 2016 assembly poll promise of free tablets with internet for students.

Fishermen would get 6000 assistance annually like farmers and a separate budget for agriculture will be introduced like other BJP states. 60-lakh job opportunities will be generated. Free piped drinking water supply to all homes will be provided by 2022 under Jal Jeevan Mission. There will be a ban on sand mining for 5 years to protect riverbeds and several river linking schemes have been announced. In the health sector, multispeciality hospitals in all districts will be established offering free treatment and air ambulances will be available in Chennai and major city public hospitals. The famed Kalakshetra for art forms in Chennai will be established in all districts.

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