Salem: The AIADMK is red-faced again. And again it’s because of the guffawing of the big ally, the BJP, which seems pretty much innocent of the Tamil sensitivities. This time it’s the ‘honest concern’ of the Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari for the farmers along the Chennai-Salem expressway that has done in the AIADMK and it’s barely three days from poll time.
Campaigning for the AIADMK candidate KRS Saravanan in Salem on Sunday, Gadkari said the Chennai-Salem Green Express Highway is of prime importance for the development in the region and it would be accomplished after holding discussions to enlighten the farmers on its true value.
“We have given the farmers more than the market value as compensation for the land taken for this project, yet they went to court. The High Court has given a stay. Still, it’s a very important project and our Chief Minister (Edappadi Palaniswami) is constantly pursuing this. I am sure that we will resolve the issue pretty soon after discussions with the farmers and we will fulfil your dream of making this Green Expressway between Chennai and Salem”, he said.
While the BJP senior’s rhetoric stunned the AIADMK allies, both on the Salem dais and elsewhere electioneering, it sure gave yet another shot of energy for the rival DMK-Congress campaigners already celebrating the ‘honesty’ of Union Minister Piyush Goyal who asserted on Friday (April 12) that NEET would not be scrapped and his party would convince its ally AIADMK that has sought temporary exemption for TN students from this entrance test for medical seats.
Just as Goyal’s argument that NEET saved the students from the hefty capitation fees charged by the private medical colleges went over the heads of the screaming anti-NEET activists, not to forget the thrilled rivals celebrating the new missile, Gadkari’s reasoning that the Expressway is
important for development and the affected farmers got more money than the market value, fell flat.
The DMK-Congress team stepped up their attack that the saffron party has always been insensitive towards Tamil sentiments and vital needs, and that the AIADMK remains mum because it’s slavish towards the dispensation headed by Narendra Modi.
“Goyal said he would speak to AIADMK and convince them on NEET and now Gadkari says he will speak to the farmers and convince them on the Expressway. On the whole, the BJP leaders do not seem to care for the Tamil voter, perhaps because they are convinced they will not score in the election here”, says political analyst Dr Kasturi Kantharaj.
“I think Chief Minister Edappadi must be hoping he will not have to suffer further shocks from more BJP guests dropping in”, says the medial practitioner, pointing out that Goyal had said TN government did not seek scrapping of NEET but only wanted the students to be allowed to take the test in Tamil, which has been done.
The rival campaigners are quick to pounce on the Gadkari guffaw, as they point out that the court had not merely stayed the project but also entirely scrapped it
by asking the government to return the lands to the farmers while slamming the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for claiming the project would benefit the population along the road.
The judges also faulted the feasibility report for the project and observed it seemed more like a cut-paste job since there were irrelevant references to China and Bengaluru in it.