Staff Reporter

"Land offer, a major reform measure"

MADURAI: A hung Assembly was unlikely in Tamil Nadu, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary, Prakash Karat, said on Saturday.

Mr. Karat said political parties getting absolute majority to form a Government was the trend in the State. "However, polls are still not decisive because the voting preference of a large number of people is still unknown. With three weeks left for the elections, I think the people will make up their minds to vote and there will be a clear mandate."

Skewed development

Asked about his assessment of the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) regime during the last five years in the background of the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, promising to make the State "number one" in the country, he said Tamil Nadu definitely had the potential to emerge as a front ranking State in terms of all round development. "But, that requires a type of growth that benefits all sections of people. In Tamil Nadu, whatever development has taken place is a skewed one. A majority of the people was deprived of its benefits. The model of balanced and equitable development was lacking in the State during the last five years."

Preferring not to comment on the `free colour television' proposed by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in its poll manifesto, he said the promise of two-acre land to landless peasants made by the DMK was a major land reform measure. "For the distribution of land to the landless, wasteland, degraded forest land, etc., could be utilised. We think this will be a very important scheme."

Periyar dam issue

Asked whether national parties were finding it difficult to address regional issues since it involved the interests of more than one State, Mr. Karat said it was difficult to compartmentalise regional and national issues. The problem of river waters had now become a national issue. National parties could only have a comprehensive approach.

"In Tamil Nadu, the problem is inadequate water from the Periyar Dam and on the other side (in Kerala) the safety factor is being highlighted. You have to balance these two issues and find a solution."

`Review fare hike'

On the withdrawal of telescopic benefit that had resulted in an upward revision of passenger fares, Mr. Karat said the Ministry of Railways should rationalise fare revision. "This (revision) is causing a lot of loss and hardship to passengers. I think the Railway Minister, Lalu Prasad, has to address it and review the hike," he said.