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DMK to continue pressing for fuel price rollback

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M. KARUNANIDHI
M. KARUNANIDHI

But will not stall Parliament proceedings

TIRUCHI: The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam will continue to press for a rollback of the hike in Central excise duty on diesel through discussions in Parliament but will not stall proceedings of the House, said Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi here on Wednesday.

“I had sought a rollback 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 told reporters. The Centre, they explained, was forced to take the step in an attempt to contain fiscal deficit, put 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 crore, to bridge the deficit. Though there was a practice of borrowing from banks, this could lead to a situation wherein banks would not be able to lend to 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 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 was hopeful that the Centre would heed the party's request.

On the incidents at Annamalai University, Mr. Karunanidhi said students had indulged in violence alleging negligence on the part of doctors after a student died in an accident. When the police reached the spot, they took to their heels and some of them fell into a canal in the darkness and three drowned. “I conveyed the details to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar when he called me up. I had deputed Health Minister M.R.K. Paneerselvam to the spot to make necessary arrangements to transport the bodies of the students to their hometowns,” he said.

Mr. Karunanidhi observed that it was true that the Sethusamudram project had slackened in pace, but it had not been shelved. The issue was before the court. There was no place for an alternative alignment. The original alignment, finalised after a study, was the right one.

Asked about “neglect” of Tamil Nadu in the Railway budget, the Chief Minister said the government had been writing to the Railway Minister highlighting the State's requirements.He asserted that funds would not be a constraint for implementation of the Kalaignar Housing Scheme. On the government's plans to bridge power shortfall in the State during summer, he said, “Steps that are being taken now will continue.” 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 at the Centre so that all MPs could speak in their mother tongue in the House.

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