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Nirmala Sitaraman Accuses DMK of False Campaign

Chennai: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman hit out at the DMK for its alleged false campaign on the Katchatheevu issue making the people believe that the State government was not aware of the transfer of the islet to Sri Lanka and said that the DMK and the Congress were in the same alliance then as they were now.

Addressing the media after participating at a seminar in a private college on Tuesday, she said the Union Government’s present stand on the Katchatheevu issue would be revealed when the cases filed in the Supreme Court came up for hearing next.

Asked as to why the BJP was raking up the issue at the time of elections, the Minister said that it was a matter concerning India’s sovereignty and hence could be raised at any time. She said that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru saw the island in the Palk Straits more as an irritant and wanted to give it away and his daughter Indira Gandhi, too, had described it as a rocky terrain.

To a question on the electoral bonds controversy, Sitharaman asked the media to raise the question with the DMK which had bought 90 per cent of the bonds from a single company, and get the explanation for that.

She said that she did not contest the Lok Sabha elections out of any fear of defeat as BJP candidates had won from different constituencies in the State in the past. If the party wanted her to contest in the election she would do it, she said.

On continuing attacks on fishermen from Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lankan Navy, she said that in 2014 during the Congress rule three fishermen were awarded death sentences by a Sri Lankan court and it was at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that those fishermen were released from captivity.

Replying to a question on the DMK government’s allegation that the Union Government did not give any relief to the State for the two natural disasters that wreaked havoc in December last year, she said assistance to the tune of Rs 5950 crore was provided to the State.

Apart from transferring Rs 950 crore funds from the National Disaster Relief Fund to the State Disaster Relief Fund, the Union Government had made available Rs 5000 crore funds for constructing infrastructural facilities that would prevent flooding, he said adding how the State government made use of the funds was not known.

While one State Minister said that 40 per cent of the funds had already been spent on infrastructure to prevent flooding, another Minister had claimed that 90 per cent of the funds had been expended, she said.

Talking about the drug menace, she said that it was rampant in the State and dismissed the charges that it was Gujarat that was used to smuggle in the contraband by claiming that the BJP government had ensured that none of the drugs entered the land from the ports.

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