MDMK chief Vaiko on Saturday called for revoking the ban on LTTE and strengthening the country’s federal structure on the lines of the USA, a demand which is unlikely to go down well with his national ally, BJP. Releasing his party’s manifesto in Chennai, Vaiko said India should be called “United States of India”, not Union of India, and “there is a need to review the Constitution”.
The party, in its manifesto, vowed to revoke the ban on LTTE and make efforts for a referendum for a separate homeland for Tamils in Sri Lanka. In another promise that could cause unease in BJP, Vaiko said the controversial Sethusamudram project should be implemented after addressing the concerns of local communities and environmentalists. He said the party will strive for the closure of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in coastal Tuticorin district.
Vaiko said the party would take efforts to rename “Union of India” as “United States of India”. “To safeguard unity and integrity of the country and strengthen federalism by giving away powers to the state, there is a need to review the Indian Constitution, as pointed out by Dr Ambedkar himself,” he said.
In reaction, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Seetharaman said parties could have their own manifestos. “But a common minimum programme for any coalition government will be worked out on the basis of which the government will function,” she told TOI.
On changing the country’s name or lifting the ban on LTTE, Seetharaman said established procedures would be followed in such cases, like deliberations at various levels before taking a final call.
The MDMK manifesto said the Indian constitution was written with an objective of supporting federal governance. Over a period, huge powers got vested with the Centre and state became powerless and remained a skeletal structure, it said. “India has been turned into a single-government country.”
While Vaiko had recently opposed the Sethusamudram shipping canal project, toeing the BJP line on the issue, his party manifesto vowed to implement the ‘Tamil’s dream project’, after looking into environmental concerns and livelihood issues of fishermen.
Seetharaman said the project had cultural and environmental implications. “It has an emotional chord with cultural moorings of the country, as much as it has an implication on fragile eco-system of the region,” she said. On MDMK’s promise to shut down Kudankulam plant, the BJP leader said country’s energy security should be ensured. “Keeping in mind the security and safety of immediate neighbourhood of Kudankulam plant, and country’s energy requirements, BJP will handle the issue with sensitivity,” Seetharaman said.
BJP has allotted seven seats to MDMK, mostly in southern Tamil Nadu, where the party enjoys a support base. Among other things, MDMK promised to retrieve Katchatheevu islet ceded to Sri Lanka, get official language status for Tamil, bring 27 per cent reservation for backward classes in education and employment, interlink rivers, abolish death penalty and strive for full statehood for Puducherry. (Times of India)