Fighting for a foothold in the Dravidian heartland, the BJP went the whole hog on its Hindutva identity without compunction by promising “strict anti-conversion law”, “criminalising religious conversion” and ban on cow slaughter in its manifesto released for the TN assembly polls on Monday. The document released by Union minister Nitin Gadkari in Chennai also promised a separate research university to teach ‘Agama’ rituals.
State BJP chief and Dharapuram candidate L Murugan said the manifesto committee interacted with various sections of society and prepared the manifesto. “Our vision document carefully lists out our commitment after meeting people through Ungal Viruppam Engal Arikkai (your wish our manifesto)’ campaign and understanding their needs and demands,” he said in the introduction of the 25-page manifesto.
Under the heading of ‘Culture and Heritage’, the party promised to bring in the ‘freedom of religion act’ and elaborated it saying that the right to freedom of religion is not the same as forcible religious conversion. “A strict anti-conversion law will be enacted in the state to criminalise religious conversion by force or allurement,” said the manifesto. On cow protection, the manifesto said anti-cow slaughter law would be enforced and a blanket ban imposed on smuggling cows to Kerala and other states for meat.
Such legislation is not new to Tamil Nadu. Former chief minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa enacted the controversial law, the Tamil Nadu prohibition of forcible conversion of religion act 2002 and banned animal and bird sacrifices in temples. Both the laws were annulled after DMK leader M Karunanidhi assumed office.
BJP promises to enforce total prohibition in state
When Jayalalithaa assumed office in 2011, her government did not attempt to bring back the laws.
In its manifesto, the BJP promised to hand over the administration of the temples in the state to a separate board comprising scholars and saints.
“This would replace the system of a secular government controlling only the Hindu religious temples,” said the manifesto prepared by the committee headed by H Raja. A separate research university would be established to teach Agama rituals.
The party has also promised to enforce total liquor prohibition in Tamil Nadu and create 50 lakh new employment opportunities. The party said it would create an infrastructure to home deliver essential commodities to all electronic cardholders through the PDS.
The party has promised an annual financial aid of ₹6,000 to each fisherman. It has promised to retrieve 12 lakh acres of panchmi land and hand it over to the Scheduled Caste members. The party has promised to trifurcate the Greater Chennai Corporation in the way it is done in New Delhi. It would recommend the Centre to provide Indian citizenship to Sri Lankan Tamils living in various refugee camps in the state.