DMK spreading false propaganda on Katchatheevu, says Nirmala Sitharaman

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman accused the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu of spreading false information on the Katchatheevu islet ceded to Sri Lanka in 1974. She criticized the Congress for failing to come to power in Tamil Nadu and demanded an explanation for the loss of territory. Sitharaman highlighted the importance of the Katchatheevu issue ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. She defended the BJP-led government's actions regarding Indian fishermen and emphasized the issue's significance for national security. The minister also questioned the Tamil Nadu government's utilization of funds provided for flood relief.

PTI | Chennai | Updated: 02-04-2024 16:13 IST | Created: 02-04-2024 16:13 IST
DMK spreading false propaganda on Katchatheevu, says Nirmala Sitharaman
  • Country:
  • India

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.

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 Indian 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.

There are two suits pending before the Supreme Court regarding Katchatheevu.

Denying that the BJP was making Katchatheevu an election issue, Sitharaman said, "There's no auspicious time to talk about it. This is an issue concerning the nation's security and sovereignty. It is our right." The issue also concerns the lives of Indian fishermen and cannot be seen in isolation, she added.

On Chief Minister M K Stalin's repeated charge that the Centre failed to provide a single rupee to the state when it underwent hardship during the December 2023 floods, the minister replied that NDRF funds to the tune of Rs 900 crore was extended to Tamil Nadu to cope with the damage left behind by the cyclone (Michaung).

"We had also provided Rs 5,000 crore as a special grant to Tamil Nadu to take up flood mitigation work. What did the Tamil Nadu government do with these two funds?" the minister asked, and demanded that the DMK government account for the funds already provided to it.

"Had at least the Rs 5,000 crore been properly spent, Chennai would not have been affected by Cyclone Michaung," the union minister said.

Asked why her party did not field her as a candidate for the general election after her name was initially announced, Sitharaman replied that it was for the BJP high command to decide on whom to nominate.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Give Feedback