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DMK spreading false propaganda for 50 years, says Nirmala Sitharaman
4/2/2024 9:57:41 PM
CHENNAI, Apr 2: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday accused the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu of spreading a false campaign on the Katchatheevu islet ceded to Sri Lanka by India in 1974, and for making "irresponsible" statements on the issue.
Late M Karunanidhi, who was DMK president and Tamil Nadu chief minister at the time, was aware of the then ruling Congress's move but did not object, she said.
The Congress, which failed to come to power in Tamil Nadu after 1967, owes an explanation to the nation for the loss of the territory which former prime minister Indira Gandhi described as a 'tiny mass of rock', she said.
Mrs Sitharaman claimed that former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had described Katchatheevu as a "nuisance".
"Let them set right the lies they have been saying for half a century," Sitharaman said, while speaking to reporters after an interaction at the Viksit Bharat Ambassador campus dialogue programme here.
Ahead of polling in Tamil Nadu on April 19 for the Lok Sabha elections, the Katchatheevu issue has put on centre stage in the state, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently attacked the Congress and the DMK over the ceding of the tiny island 50 years ago. Both the Congress and its ally DMK have hit back at the BJP for raking up the five-decade-old bilateral agreement between India and Sri Lanka ahead of polls.
Accusing the DMK of supporting the UPA government's "anti-people initiatives", the minister said the DMK "merely" wrote 21 letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking the retrieval of Katchatheevu, while all along the Dravidian party has refrained from uttering anything against the Congress government, which was also responsible for banning 'Jallikattu'.
The then chief minister Karunanidhi did not object at all even though the then foreign secretary explained it in detail in 1974. "But the DMK is spreading a false campaign that the islet had been ceded without their knowledge. We have documentary evidence to prove them wrong," she claimed.
On the opposition charge as to why the BJP-led government at the Centre had not acted on the matter during a decade of its rule, she responded saying the government prevented a fisherman from getting hanged in Sri Lanka and brought him home safely. In addition, steps have been taken to secure the release of fishermen from time to time, she added.
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