Chennai: A high voltage debate on plethora of issues including April Lok Sabha results, Tamil Nadu’s fiscal health and Cauvery issue was witnessed in the Assembly on the concluding day of the Budget session on Saturday. While trading exchanges, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami remarked that the opposition DMK won the polls by “giving false assurances as candy to voters.”
The remark almost left the Opposition DMK dazed for sometime. However, recovering, leader of the Opposition in the Assembly and DMK president M. K. Stalin said, “we gave assurances hoping to win. Definitely a change of rule will come and then an opportunity, too, to fulfill our assurances.”
Initiating a debate on the demand for grants for Public (among the portfolios held by Mr. Palaniswami) and Finance, Planning, Legislative Assembly, Elections, Housing and Urban Development (portfolios held by Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam), Mr. Stalin who initially lashed out at the Centre for not providing adequate funds to TN, faulted the State government on the fiscal health.
“During the DMK rule, the fiscal deficit and revenue deficit were under control but in your rule both the fiscal deficit and revenue deficit are mounting. Have any funds been allocated to the numerous announcements made during the MGR centenary celebrations and for the schemes and programmes announced by the CM under Assembly rule 110?” Stalin asked.
Responding, Mr. Palaniswami said while a majority of announcements have been fulfilled, steps are underway to fulfill the remaining announcements.
Electricity Minister P. Thangamani added that when the CM makes an announcement pertaining to Electricity department, then it is the onus of his ministry to allocate funds. “There is no need for the government to make separate allocation because the respective government departments would take care of the funding,” he said.
Mr. Panneerselvam said the revenue deficit and fiscal deficit were well within the parameters.
Resuming, Mr. Stalin recalled the Cauvery issue, hydrocarbon and Sterlite plant, to indicate that the government was implementing anti-people projects. To this, Mr. Palaniswami shot back, “just now I got information that your MP, Dayanidhi Maran is speaking in support of the 8-lane Chennai-Salem green corridor, in the Parliament,” apparently referring to DMK’s opposition to this project in the State.
Turning to simultaneous Lok Sabha polls and Assembly by-election in April, the DMK leader claimed his party emerged numerically stronger than the AIADMK, winning 37 Lok Sabha seats and 13 out of 22 Assembly seats. The Chief Minister charged the DMK of winning the election by “giving false poll assurances as candy to voters.” “Your poll promises can never translate into deeds. What took place is by-election not Assembly election. But we won by fair means,” Mr. Palaniswami said.
Objecting, the DMK leader said, “We are prepared for a separate debate on poll results, provided you are willing for it. We gave assurances hoping to win. Definitely a change of rule will come and when it comes we will fulfill our promises.” He accused the Central government of acting against the interests of States, especially ‘thrusting’ its ideas of ‘one nation, one language,’ ‘one nation, one ration card,’ and said State autonomy voiced by leaders: Anna and Karunanidhi, is at threat now. “The Assembly should pass a resolution on Maanilathile Suyatchi, Mathiyile Kootatchi” (Autonomy for States; federalism at the Centre), to re-establish autonomy in the States,” he demanded.