THANJAVUR: DMK President M K Stalin, who commenced his 'grama sabha' meetings at Pulivalam in Tiruvarur district on Wednesday, charged the Election Commission of India (ECI) as acting at the behest of the Central government.
The bye-poll to the Tiruvarur constituency, vacant since the death of Stalin's father M Karunanidhi, the late DMK chief, on August 7, 2018, was rescinded on Monday. The bye-poll had been notified on December 31.
"Even before Tiruvarur, there were 19 vacancies in the Assembly. The bye-elections should held to all 20 Assembly constituencies at once. But, the ECI, as the handmaid of the Union Government, announced elections only to Tiruvarur. The ruling party conspired to win the election by distributing money," he charged. He alleged that the ECI had cancelled the bye-poll at the eleventh hour before the verdict of the Supreme Court before which appeals had been made to defer the polls.
Continuing his attacks on the BJP-led Central government, Stalin accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of running a government for the welfare of big corporate companies. "His government's policies are destroying fertile lands and creating factories by corporates on these lands. The State government only aims to remain in power and is ready to do the bidding of the Centre," he charged.
"The Modi-led government can be termed as a fascist raj, Nazist (sic) raj. If this situation is to be changed a people’s raj should be ushered in," Stalin said, adding that it would be panchayat raj.
He accused the State government of neglecting the devastation of delta districts after Cyclone Gaja and criticised the Salem-Chennai greenfield expressway plan and acquisition of lands to lay high-tension powerlines.
Speaking at the meeting held at a coconut grove, Stalin said that, on behalf of DMK, the 'Ooratchi sabha' meetings (meeting at all village panchayats) were being held across the 12,617 panchayats in the State. "'Let’s Go to the people, speak to people and win the hearts of the people’ is the slogan of the meetings and we want to hear the problems faced by you and look for remedies to those problems," he said. The problems discussed in the meetings would be taken note of and be used to frame schemes to alleviate them.
People air their grievances
Of the 16 people from the village who spoke at the meeting, 13 were women. Their main demand was the construction of a public sanitary complex with lavatories and bathrooms. They complained about non-distribution of Gaja relief, claiming that officials had told them their village had not been much affected. They also raised demands for a bus shelter at Pallivasal street, a new bus stand at Tiruvarur and for roads to be relaid.
Those who had been affected by Gaja claimed that, under the MGNREGA, they were only being provided two to three days of work per month. They demanded year-long work as they had lost their livelihood to the cyclone. A widowed woman claimed she had been denied Old Age pension (OAP) by officials on grounds that she had a son. A girl with visual impairment asked to shake hands with Stalin, who readily obliged.