MK Stalin | Photo:: PTI
Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK President M K Stalin on Monday made a strong pitch for opposition unity ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, saying there was "no use in seperate voices," and there should be collective effort towards ensuring federalism, equality and social justice.
Stalin also batted for caste-based census.
In his address at the first conference of the DMK-sponsored All India Federation for Social Justice held in the hybrid mode, he also slammed the ruling BJP in Karnataka for doing away with reservation for Muslims, saying it was done with an eye on the May 10 Assembly polls in that state.
Incidentally, in rally of opposition parties here coinciding with his birthday on March 1, Stalin had batted for a spirit of unity among opposition parties.
In a meeting attended by top political leaders of India, including the CMs of Rajasthan and Jharkhand, Ashok Gehlot and Hemant Soren, respectively, general secretaries of CPI (M) and CPI, Sitaram Yechury and D Raja and J&K National Connference leader Farooq Abdullah, Stalin strongly batted for social justice.
He attacked the ruling BJP at the Centre for implementing the 10 per cent Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota, questioning the logic behind economic status being a criteria to extend the welfare measure.
Calling for collective efforts, he said, "we should raise our voice to establish the principles of Federalism, State Autonomy, Secularism, Equality, Fraternity, Socialism and Social Justice all over India.
It should not be a lone voice. It should not be different individual voices either. It should be a voice of unity, a voice of coalition," the 70 year-old leader said.
"However idealistic an ideology may be, for it to succeed, the unity among the parties which has accepted the ideology is of great importance. Such a unity is not enough, if it is in only few states. It has to happen in every state. It has to be for the whole of India. It is for that unity, federations like this will serve as the foundation.
Let's fight together to create an India of social justice, an India of equal justice and an India of Brotherhood," he said.
The BJP-led central government has "cunningly" added economically along with socially and educationally in reservation.
"They have already given reservation on the basis of economic status. It is not a static criterion though. One who is poor today can become rich tomorrow and vice versa. A few can even conceal the wealth they possess. Hence it is not right to have this criterion for reservation," he said.
Noting that the BJP implements EWS on the pretext of poor among forward castes, Stalin stated that this was not social justice.
"We do not prevent any financial help for the poor and needy. It is economic justice and not social justice. If something is for the poor, should not it be for poor among all castes? Why the exception for forward castes? Is it not injustice to push the poor oppressed caste people out of the EWS ambit? This is the reason we oppose EWS."
The DMK leader took a swipe at critics of reservation who cite merit as an issue, and sought to know what was their logic to support the 10 per cent EWS quota.
"They (BJP) are trying to take us back in time when only the so-called high castes could study. It should be stopped at all costs," he added.
On the reservation issue in Karnataka, Stalin said the 4 per cent quota for Muslims has been scrapped.
"They have been added to EWS instead. The quota scrapped for Muslims have been given to other two communities (Vokkaligas and Lingayats) there by setting the ground for enmity between the groups concerned. The Scheduled Castes are also discriminated. They have done this keeping the upcoming elections in kind.
People have been discriminated based on a notion of who vote for BJP and who do not. social justice has been murdered so blatantly in Karnataka," the CM claimed.
Demanding that the union government conduct caste-based census and release the data, he said it should be monitored all over the country as well as in the states. It should be monitored with the lens of social justice.
Pointing out that the DMK government had established a social justice monitoring committee to monitor whether the yardstick of social justice is being followed in education, employment, appointments and promotions, he called for setting up of such panels in all the states.