Making clear her national ambitions, AIADMK general secretary and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa promised to check Chinese aggression and Pakistan-backed militancy, bring back black money, rescind the policy on FDI in retail, stop disinvestment of PSUs, raise Income Tax exemption limit to Rs 5 lakh, and roll back a proposed hike in natural gas price in her party manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls on Tuesday.
The party also promised to extend the state government’s “laudable” populist schemes to the rest of the country. These include distribution of free mixies, grinders, fans, milch cows and goats for women; marriage assistance in cash and gold; maternity benefit scheme for poor pregnant women and comprehensive health insurance scheme for the poor; free school education with laptops, text and note books, geometry boxes, atlases, crayons and colour pencils, school bags, uniforms, cycles, bus passes and cash incentives to reduce dropouts.
The AIADMK seemed to have incorporated issues raised by the Congress, BJP, Left and even AAP in its manifesto. It promised to change the price determining mechanism for petrol and diesel by cutting down the powers of the oil marketing companies, work for a permanent seat for India in the UN Security Council and set up a welfare board for unorganised workers. The party also promised farm loan interest waiver and a corruption-free administration.
Promising to provide a “determined, bold and strong leadership” and a “government which performs”, the party said it would uphold secularism, welfare of minorities, senior citizens and the differently-abled, boost manufacture, promote MSMEs and support agriculture.
With the party’s strength confined to the Tamil region — 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu and 1 in Puducherry — the manifesto also raised local issues like the emotive Sri Lankan Tamils matter. The party said it was determined to bring to book all those accused of war crimes and genocide against Tamils in Sri Lanka, and move the UN for a referendum among Sri Lankan Tamils on the formation of an independent nation — Eelam.
It also promised to retrieve Katchatheevu islet, that was ceded to Lanka in the mid-70s. Jaya has opposed this in court and the case is pending. “The foreign policy of the country should not hurt the interests of the states in the country,” noted the manifesto.
It included other local issues like setting up a Cauvery Management Board, welfare of fishermen from Tamil Nadu, making Tamil an official language, junking UPA’s “half-baked” food security scheme in favour of a universal PDS, and obtaining digital addressable system (DAS) licence for the State-run Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation.