BJP's agenda makes big noise, but gives TN little
N Sathiya Moorthy in Madras
Public claims apart, the much-tauted Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition's national agenda is a letdown for Tamil Nadu, particularly after the big noise made by its All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham partner.
On the crucial Cauvery waters row, the agenda has not conceded the state's demand -- of implementing the Cauvery Water Tribunal's interim award. But it seems to be attesting rival Karnataka's controversial stand.
By endorsing Karnataka's view that a national water policy should be framed, the agenda is trying to divert attention from the real issue -- as Karnataka did when the issue blew up last time round.
The only difference is that the agenda provides for a time-frame for the implementation. But nobody is saying how a multi-faceted, anti-issue policy that is nonexistent can be implemented.
In comparison, the agenda's promise on the reservation issue is one shade better.
Referring obviously to the AIADMK demand -- that the existing 69 per cent reservation in the state should be protected -- the agenda promises legal and constitutional protection in this regard. This may also address the clamour for similar protection for a higher reservation quota, now existing in states like Karnataka.
What, however, has been left unmentioned by the agenda as also the AIADMK, is the pending case before the Supreme Court in this regard.
The court has already ruled that the total reservations should not go beyond 50 per cent. Even the law passed by the Tamil Nadu assembly, when J Jayalalitha was chief minister, was brought under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution by Parliament, to escape judicial scrutiny.
Yet, if full-fledged protection has to be extended, a Constitutional amendment, requiring a two-thirds majority, is a must. For, the existing protection under the Ninth Schedule may come under judicial review, if the court takes its earlier verdict to its logical conclusion.
Incidentally, the BJP combine does not have a two-thirds majority in either House of Parliament. Moreover, the re-opening of the Mandal Pandora's Box may affect the BJP's own interests elsewhere.
The promise to make Tamil an official language of the Union -- considered closer to the hearts of the Pattali Makkal Katchi and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazagham, allies of the AIADMK -- along with all the other national languages could lead to more problems than solving any.
It could create to practical problems in communications between states, and between the states and the Union.
For, the implementation of such a policy would mean that all communications of the Union should be made in all the 19 languages, and any one state could choose to communicate with any other in the language of its choice.
As for the AIADMK demand for 33 per cent reservation for women, it is not state-specific. Even here, the intention, as expressed by the agenda, is one thing, actual implementation is another. As may be recalled, the United Front government too attempted it, but faced stiff opposition from the Janata Dal constituent, to begin with.
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