Parties say BJP defeat priority, but non-committal on grand alliance

NEW DELHI: The CPM on Monday said its priority was to defeat the BJP both in the upcoming Assembly polls as well as next year’s Lok Sabha elections, but it remained non-committal on joining the Congress-led ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance).
Addressing a press conference, party general secretary Sitaram Yechury said it will contest some seats in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh while it will campaign for the defeat of the BJP in the rest of the seats.
“We will decide on joining the ‘mahagathbandhan’ when time comes. Let things crystallise. For now, our priority is to defeat the BJP and ensure formation of secular governments,” Yechury said. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami too remained non-committal on an alliance between the ruling AIADMK and BJP in the Lok Sabha elections in the state and ruled out seeking the resignation of his ministers facing corruption charges.
“(Lok Sabha) elections have not been announced. We will decide on an alliance once the poll dates are announced,” he told reporters after his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The chief minister and the prime minister are believed to have discussed the political situation in the state where a political vacuum has followed the deaths of charismatic leaders J Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi.
To a question about seeking resignation of Ministers facing corruption charges, the Chief Minister said: “If facing corruption charges is the ground for removal of a minister, then nobody, not just in Tamil Nadu but in the entire country, can continue as a minister. In such a situation, you just have to give a complaint of corruption and the minister cannot continue.”
There are corruption charges against some ministers in the Palaniswami cabinet including Health Minister C Vijayabhaskar and Local Administration Minister S P Velumani.
During the meeting, the chief minister handed over a memorandum to Modi seeking release of Rs 44,315,89 crore to the state under several heads including the remainder of the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (GST).
He urged the Modi government to set up a permanent naval station at Kanyakumari or Kolachel by the Indian Coast Guard for carrying out search and rescue operations of fishermen on the high seas.
Palaniswami requested Modi to facilitate the setting up of a dental college in Virudhunagar district and a medical college in Ramanathapuram.
According to Palaniswami, Rs 5,426 crore was due from the central government towards the balance Integrated Goods and Services Tax for 2017-18 and the ad hoc settlement of IGST due for September 2018.
As a permanent flood control plan for Chennai, the state sought Rs 4,445.84 crore towards the integrated storm water drain network in Kovalam and Kosasthalaiyar Basin as well as the restoration of water bodies and purchase of machineries as New Delhi’s share so that necessary infrastructure required to encounter work to control floods will come up at the earliest.
A sum of Rs 560.15 crore towards performance grants for urban and rural local bodies for 2017-18 and Rs 1,608.03 crore as first instalment for fiscal 2018-19 and Rs 985.78 crore as arrears up to 2017-18 towards post matric scholarship for SC/ST students was also sought.
The memorandum demanded Rs 400 crore for establishing integrated fishing infrastructure in Kanyakumari district and Rs 2,000 crore as compensation for the unfair treatment the state got under the 14th Finance Commission.
Under Green Climate Fund and National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change, Tamil Nadu has asked for Rs 4,544.77 crore and Rs 8,699 crore towards pending Grants-in-aid under various schemes.
The memorandum also sought Rs 15,441.32 crore towards improvements in the irrigation systems in the Cauvery Basin. He said the total project cost was estimated at Rs 17,600 crore out of which Rs 2,158.68 crore has been sanctioned for one of the nine components of the project. Citing the vacant lands in the possession of Salem Steel Plant in the state, Palaniswami urged Modi to promote an industrial hub for defence products there. He sought central assistance of about Rs 205 crore towards communication and other equipments for fishermen.