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"Elections will be tough" Elections will be tough: Chidambaram

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P. Chidambaram
P. Chidambaram

Special Correspondent

Karunanidhi-led Government will be installed, says Chidambaram "Karunanidhi-led Government will be installed"

CHENNAI: Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Saturday said the May 8 Assembly elections would be tough. However, he said that people would give a clear mandate in favour of the Democratic Progressive Alliance led by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).

Replying to queries at a press conference here on the nature of the Government to be formed in the State, he said a new Government led by DMK president M. Karunanidhi would be installed. Asked if there was scope for the formation of a coalition Government, he said, "Now we are not talking about what Government will be formed. We expect the DPA to win the elections."

He made it clear that issues relating to the nature of the Government could be discussed only on the basis of the election outcome.

Mr. Chidambaram charged the AIADMK with "completely undermining democracy and Parliamentary practices in the State legislature. The Government passed legislation using brute majority in the Assembly and in many cases after throwing out the entire Opposition. They had passed 15 Bills in 15 minutes."

The last five years saw the Government "foisting" over 100 cases against newspaper editors and scribes, dismissing several Government employees, invoking draconian laws such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the Essential Services Maintenance Act and the Tamil Nadu Essential Services Maintenance Act, introducing a law to ban forced conversions and banning animal sacrifices in temples. "Where is the guarantee that Chief Minister Jayalalithaa will not continue this course if she returns to power," he asked.

Assistance for projects

Even Chief Ministers and Ministers belonging to States ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party and other Opposition parties held talks with Central Ministers seeking assistance for various projects. But the AIADMK Government refused to cooperate with the Centre. It also disrespected the authority of the Prime Minister.

This did not augur well for the country's federal system.

Ms. Jayalalithaa had been opposing the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project. She had failed to send a proposal to the Centre on setting up a desalination plant in Chennai. He gave a detailed account of the Central initiative for enhancing infrastructure facilities in the State.

The State Government had not evinced adequate interest to avail itself of benefits under various Central schemes. No special economic zone was formed at the State Government's initiative.

To a query, Mr. Chidambaram said the free bicycle scheme in the State had been implemented with Central Government funds sanctioned under "Additional Central Assistance."

Funds to the tune of Rs. 31 crore with a loan component of Rs. 21.70 crore and a grant of Rs. 9.30 crore were released from February 18, 2002 to January 15, 2004.

Tsunami relief

On tsunami relief, he said, the Centre had sanctioned relief and rehabilitation measures at an outlay of Rs. 5,025 crore including external funding of Rs. 2,678.37 crore.

On the State's demand for Rs. 13,457 crore towards relief and rehabilitation in the flood-affected areas, he said the Centre had released Rs. 1,000 crore. The State should come out with separate schemes for repairing roads and farm loan waiver, Mr. Chidambaram said.

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