DMK Manifesto Calls For Greater State Autonomy, Scrapping Of Governor's Powers

The Manifesto asserts that the new Government in the Centre would take steps to grant citizenship to the Tamil refugees migrated from Srilanka.

Photo via PTI Photo
Tamil Nadu CM and DMK chief MK Stalin with party leader Kanimozhi during the release of the party's candidates' list and manifesto during a party meeting, in Chennai, Wednesday, March 20, 2024. Photo via PTI Photo

DMK releases election manifesto with a bunch of policy statements that is a complete departure from the policies of the present BJP Government at the centre giving thrust to State Autonomy and the inclusion of Tamil as one of the official languages of the Union Government. The manifesto states that articles 361 and 356 would be repealed. 361 gives exemption to the Governors and 356 empowers the Union Government to dissolve a State Government and to impose President’s rule.

The manifesto states that DMK is a party that have stood for more powers to the States. There were many committees constituted by the previous Governments at the Centre for looking centre State relationships. There had been several recommendations for giving more autonomy to States. “Substantial resolutions to this crucial national issue remain unaddressed and stagnant. In keeping with this history, the DMK continues to advocate for the recommendations of the aforementioned four committees on state autonomy, for Union-State relations to be thoroughly debated, and for the Constitution to be amended to grant real autonomy to the states” highlights the Manifesto.

The Manifesto gives the indication that DMK would go on a battle against the ‘imposition of Hindi’. The movement against the imposition of Hindi has a pivotal role in the political history of the State that helped in strengthening the foundations of Dravidian politics in the State. The first such agitation was launched in 1937 by E V Ramaswamy, the founding leader of Justice Party which later turned as Dravida Kazhakam from which DMK was born. The agitation triggered off when teaching Hindi was made compulsory as part of curriculum. Later in 1960s, the movement against imposition of Hindi took a violent turn. Followed by the enactment of the Official Languages Act in 1963, the protest spread across campuses and riots were unleashed which caused the death of around 70 people.

The imposition of Hindi has always been an emotionally charged issue exacerbating the sense of regionalism and thus fueling Dravidian identity politics. ‘The resolution passed in the 1996 DMK State Conference in Trichyto include Tamil among the official languages of the Union, continues to be pursued by the DMK government in the Union for implementation. Accordingly, for all Union government jobs and examinations conducted by bodies like the Union Public Service Commission, the DMK will initiate actions 12 to conduct written and oral examinations in Tamil and other respective state official languages’, states the manifesto.

Besides, the Manifesto makes it clear that Tamil will be declared as a Co-Official Language in Union government offices in Tamil Nadu, ensuring that all Union government offices, institutions and nationalized banks in Tamil Nadu operate in Tamil as well, with relevant amendments to Section 343 of the Indian Constitution to be introduced by the new government.

The Manifesto also asserts that the new Government in the Centre would take steps to grant citizenship to the Tamil refugees migrated from Srilanka. “Tamils affected by ethnic conflicts in Sri Lanka who sought refuge in Tamil Nadu, and those of Indian descent known as Hill Country Tamils and their children, housed in refugee camps since the 1964 Shastri-Sirimavo Bandaranaike India-Sri Lanka pact, will be facilitated to obtain Indian citizenship’ states the Manifestor. It is also assured that measures would be taken by the new Union government to grant Indian citizenship to Sri Lankan Tamil relatives who have been permitted to stay in camps for over 35 years.

The Manifesto also states that the assurance that the key institutions of democracy such as the Supreme Court, CAG, CBI, Indian Medical Council, Reserve Bank and UGC are in peril under the BJP Government. The autonomy and independence of these institutions would be regained if INDIA coalition comes into power, states the Manifesto.

The Manifesto also highlights a long list of unmet promises given by the BJP Government including the one on establishing AIIMS in the State. A committee to look into the conflicts of Tamil Nadu fishermen with theSrilankan force, welfare measures to turmeric and tapioca farmers, modernisation of the steel industry at Selam, a development package for Krishnagiri region are some of the unfulfilled promises made by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his visits to Tamil Nadu since 2014, according to the Manifesto.

The DMK has also released the list of candidates for 21 constituencies. The state has 39 Lok Sabha constituencies, with Puducherry being an additional one. The manifesto also promises that Puducherry will be granted statehood if a government in which the DMK is a part comes into power. Despite the BJP having a nominal presence in the state, vote share-wise, the battle seems to be more ideological against the BJP. The AIADMK is struggling to formulate and finalize its coalition and appears to be far behind the DMK on the electoral front.