Chennai : Having ambitiously set her eyes on a national role in politics, AIADMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Tuesday unveiled the 2014 Lok Sabha election manifesto that seeks to roll out a national vision with a strong regional perspective.
food security policy, the manifesto drops clears hints of a larger role that Jayalalithaa has envisaged for herself, should the country’s electorate throw up a fractured mandate with a significant number of seats in her party’s kitty.
Jayalalithaa, who had on Monday declared candidates for all 40 seats in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (subject to amendment and post-seat adjustment with her two Left allies), said, “in our manifesto we have spelt out many policies and promised to implement many schemes not only for the growth of and prosperity of Tamil Nadu but also for the entire Nation.”
The manifesto is a mixed bag of populist social pronouncements and political posturing, at the national and domestic level. Keeping her regional interest in mind, Jayalalithaa has in the manifesto taken care to highlight issues such as a referendum in Sri Lankan, interlinking of rivers, the Cauvery dispute and the killing of Tamil Nadu fishermen. With the Sri Lankan issue in mind, the AIADMK wants to introduce a foreign policy that takes the interests of the States into account.
At a national level, hitting out at the UPA-II Government’s “half-baked” Food Security Scheme, the manifesto said the AIADMK would strive to replace it with a Universal Public Distribution System.
The party also spoke of reviewing the oil pricing by withdrawing the authority given to the oil marketing companies to determine the prices of petrol and diesel.
“Action will be taken to determine the direct two-way exchange rate between the currency of different countries and the Indian rupee, i.e. a currency swap arrangement will be put in place. A separate Fund will be established to insulate and hedge the impact of variations of exchange rate on the price of petroleum products and thereby protect the common public from adverse price shocks,” the manifesto said.
Criticising the manner in which natural resources such as coal blocks were allocated by the Manmohan Singh Government, the AIADMK has promised to formulate a transparent Natural Resources Policy. The party promised to modify the coal mining policy to ensure that State public enterprises are able to obtain coal at lower prices.
Apart from promising to raise the Income Tax slab to Rs 5 lakh, the manifesto said the party would amend the Income Tax Act to ensure that States are not deprived of revenues.
On the populism front, it promised to grant Scheduled Caste status to converts to other religions and also to protect the 69 per cent reservation for OBCs.
The manifesto notes that the weight of global economic power is shifting inexorably towards Asia, particularly India and China. In this backdrop, the manifesto says, “It is our firm conviction that within India, Tamil Nadu would emerge as the epicentre of such power. We have a vision for India in which Tamil Nadu will play a key role – a vision of a resurgent India.”
Apart from harping on secularism, and knowledge-driven economy, the manifesto envisages a larger role by the “talented, courageous, capable, wise, humane and decisive” Jayalalithaa to take the nation forward on the plank of “peace, prosperity and progress.”