Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam treasurer M.K. Stalin, who launched the party’s campaign for the Lok Sabha polls here on Friday, accused Chief Minister Jayalalithaa of having a ‘secret understanding’ with the BJP.
“In her campaign so far, she has not attacked the BJP and its policies. There lies a secret conspiracy. This will come out in the open after the polls,” he said. As a leader aspiring to be the Prime Minister, she was expected to attack another aspirant, Narendra Modi. After all, it was Ms. Jayalalithaa who supported ‘kar seva’ in the past.”
Mr. Stalin virtually turned the election into a battle between the DMK and AIADMK, even though the constituency has a substantial presence of the BJP, Congress and CPI (M) and involves these parties in a multi-corned contest. Moreover, three of the six MLAs in the district are from the Congress.
The only occasion he criticised the BJP was when he complained about the present status of the Sethusamudram project, a dream project of the DMK. He alleged that “on the instigation of the BJP and communal forces, the AIADMK government filed a petition against the project in the court.”
“It is strange because the AIADMK, in its manifesto in the last election, had vowed to implement the project. Its stand on the issue is ridiculous,” he said while introducing F.M. Rajarathinam, the party candidate, who was a former AIADMK strongman before joining the DMK.
Stalin’s campaign here looked a throwback to the 1968 Lok Sabha by-poll situation, when his father and party president M. Karunanidhi similarly campaigned in the area as the former Chief Minister Kamaraj - after the Congress’ crushing defeat in 1967 Assembly polls – had contested the Nagercoil seat then. The Chief Minister and DMK founder C.N. Annadurai kept away from that campaigning against Kamaraj and it was left to Mr. Karunanidhi to make up for his absence.
This time, Mr. Stalin has taken the campaigning burden as Mr. Karunanidhi will not be touring extensively.
In a significant departure from the past, the Congress, which had in earlier years faced elections as part of either the DMK or the AIADMK in the past, now locks horns with the two main Dravidian parties in Kanyakumari. As the district has a substantial Christian population, Mr. Stalin touched upon two issues – providing grant for minority educational institutions and right to construct churches on private patta lands.
“The DMK government amended the Tamil Nadu Recognised Schools (Regulation) Act to provide grant and recognition to minority-run educational institutions started between 1991 and 1999.
The schools started subsequently could not get the privilege because the AIADMK government refused them recognition and grant,” he alleged.
Similarly, the promise made by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to the Christian community to build churches on private patta land was also not implemented.
Addressing a meeting at Colachel, a town with sizable Muslim population, he recalled the DMK government’s decision to provide 3.5 per cent reservation for the community.Mr. Stalin set apart much of his speech to focus on the sharp increase in prices of essential commodities. He was continuously cheered by the crowd, who warmed up to update the latest prices. “I prepared the figure before arriving here. Probably, the prices have gone up before I reached,” he quipped, evoking loud laughter.
Even while criticising the deterioration of law and order situation, he confined himself to major incidents that occurred in Kanyakumari district.