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Lok Sabha polls: DMK releases manifesto, promises to restart Sethusamudram project; abolish NEET

DMK President MK Stalin. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 19, 2019, 12.07 PM (IST)

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam released its manifesto for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls on Tuesday. Among scores of announcements, the party made public that Sethusamudram project will be started again.

The project entails opening up of the ecologically fragile Gulf of Mannar for dredging. Hindus believe that Ram Sethu was used by Lord Rama to crossover to Lanka to rescue goddess Sita. Rationalists, on the other hand, believe that the inundated bund is not man-made but a creation of tidal waves over a period of time.

Such was the furore in 2007 that the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had to withdraw the affidavit filed in the Supreme Court where the project was stated as a mythological feature. 

With cultural sentiments flying very high and the BJP also in the fray in Tamil Nadu for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, both Congress and the BJP will stay away from such controversial projects. 

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The Sethusamudram project will involve shipping routes to traverse from the Gulf of Mannar rather than circumnavigating around Sri Lanka. 

Key highlights of DMK manifesto

Another controversial point in the manifesto is where the party says it will free former Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi’s killers if they come to power.

DMK chief MK Stalin also stated that National Eligibility-Cum-Entrance Test (NEET) would be abolished in Tamil Nadu and central offices in the state would function using Tamil as a co-official language. 

"The NEET for medical admissions will be scrapped," DMK chief M K Stalin said while unveiling the salient features of his party's manifesto. Opposition to NEET in Tamil Nadu from major political parties and students had taken emotive overtones in the past.

The party also assured steps for waiver of all educational loans taken by students.

"We will bring back the old pension scheme for both the central and state government employees," Stalin said.

The DMK president said the party would revert to the administered-price mechanism to regulate the prices of petrol, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

Another key feature of the manifesto is doing away with the direct cash transfer of subsidy for the LPG and bringing down the prices of cylinders.

The DMK is contesting 20 seats in the state, allotting the remaining 19 to its allies. The state goes to polls in a single phase on April 18.