The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam would continue to press for a roll back of the hike in the central excise duty on diesel through discussions in Parliament but not stall the proceedings of the House, said Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi here on Wednesday.
"I had sought a roll back of the customs duty hike at least on diesel since it will have a direct impact on farmers and food production. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and other Union Ministers called me up to explain their position and the situation in which the hike was effected," he said addressing a press conference here.
The Centre, they explained, had been forced to resort to the step in an attempt to contain the fiscal deficit, pegged at 5.5 per cent of the GDP. The Central Finance Commission wants to bring it down below 3 per cent. The Centre had to reduce market borrowings, estimated to be around Rs.3,80,000 crores, to bridge the deficit. Though there was a practice of borrowing from banks, this could lead to a situation wherein banks were not able to lend to the industry and the poor.
As to whether the DMK would join the agitating Opposition, Mr.Karunanidhi said the party would follow the path shown by Anna, be it in the Assembly or the Parliament. ‘We will put forward our views on people’s issues through discussions and try to find a solution. We do not wish to stall the proceedings of the House. This will only be against the interests of the people," he said. He was hopeful that the Centre would heed the party’s request.
On the violent incidents at the Annamalai University, Mr. Karunanidhi said that students had indulged in violence alleging negligence on the part of doctors after a student died in an accident. When police rushed to the spot, they had taken to the heels and some had fallen into a canal in darkness and three had died. "I had conveyed the details to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar when he called me up. I had also deputed Health Minister M.R.K.Paneerselvam to the spot and make necessary arrangements to transport the bodies of the students to their native places," he said.
Mr.Karunanidhi observed that it was true that the Sethusamudram project has slackened in pace but did not agree that it has been shelved. The issue is before the court now. But there was no place for an alternative alignment and the original alignment finalised after a study was the right one, he observed.
When asked about the "neglect" of Tamil Nadu in the Railway Budget, the Chief Minister said the government has been writing to the Railway Minister highlighting the State’s requirements. He asserted that funds would not be a constraint for the implementation of the Kalaignar Housing Scheme. "Steps that are being taken now will continue", he said replying to a question on the government’s plans to bridge the power shortfall in the state during the summer.
To a question on the demand for allowing MPs to speak in Tamil in Parliament, Mr.Karunanidhi said the DMK had been demanding that Tamil and other State languages be made official languages of the Centre so that all MPs were able to speak in their mother tongues in the House.
Mr.Karunanidhi affirmed in the positive when asked whether he had plans to present any research paper at the World Classical Tamil Conference to be held at Coimbatore in June. Preparatory works for the conference, by the various committees, were underway in full swing. On speculations that Assembly elections would be "soon at hand" after the conference, Mr.Karunanidhi quipped that the elections would only be held with the "hand."