Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Regional issues and concerns missing from manifestos of national parties

Both Congress and BJP, the two parties that aspire to govern the country for the next five years, seem to have very little to promise to Southern states especially Tamil Nadu in their election manifestos.

Despite the two national parties not aligning with the Dravidian majors AIADMK and DMK and a multi-cornered fight in place, no real effort seems to have been taken to appease the Tamil voter by the big national parties.

While the Congress party atleast makes a brief mention of the Sri Lankan Tamil issue towards the end of its long manifesto document, the Ealam issue does not even figure in the BJP’s manifesto for the nation.

In its foreign policy manifesto, Congress party claims that if elected to power the party would engage with SL to ensure that Tamil-speaking people and other minorities have full equality and equal rights. “We will continue to press the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the 13th amendement and create autonomous provinces, especially  in the North and East,” Congress manifesto states. The party has also assured all humanitarian and development assistance to Tamil-speaking people.

But, there is no mention of Sri Lanka or the party’s stand on the country’s alleged war crimes and the treatment meted out to its Tamil populace. The only mention of a TN-relevant issue is the party’s claim that the Ram Sethu is a part of the country’s cultural herigate and also of strategic importance due toits vast thorium deposits. “These facts will be taken into consideration while taking any decision on the ‘Sethu – Samudram’ project.

A brief comparison of the manifestos released by the Dravidian majors unveils the number of crucial poll issues that have been given a miss by the BJP and Congress.

Some of the top issues in both the AIADMK and DMK manifestos include efforts towards peaceful living for SL Tamils and punitive action for war crimes by the island nation, welfare of TN fishermen who are constantly under attack, retrieval of Katchatheevu, the way to go forward in the decades-old Cauvery water dispute, strengthening of power corridors to overcome electricity crisis, setting up a second rocket launching centre in TN, and gas exploration in Cauvery basin.

None of these issues find even a brief mention in the manifestos of the top national parties.

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