Katchatheevu row: Stalin hits back at PM Modi, questions BJP's 'sudden love' for fishermen

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin. File Photo: PTI.

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Monday responded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's criticism of the ruling DMK regarding the Katchatheevu issue. Stalin questioned the BJP's sudden interest in fishermen before the elections and raised concerns about various issues, including the state's request for Rs 37,000 crore in flood relief packages.

Responding to Modi's criticism through a post on 'X', Stalin also described the Katchatheevu issue as a "diversionary" tactic being adopted by the PM. The Katchatheevu islet was ceded to Sri Lanka by India by way of an agreement in 1974. 

"The people of Tamil Nadu want to put forth only three questions to those, who, after being in a Kumbakarna slumber for 10 years, are displaying a sudden love for the fishermen for elections. Why does the Union government return just 29 paise out of the Rs 1 paid by TN as tax," he asked.

"Why has not been a single penny given to Tamil Nadu as flood relief despite the state having faced two natural disasters (the floods in Chennai and Thoothukudi in December 2023)," Stalin said.

Thirdly, he asked if there was one special scheme meant for the state that was implemented in the last 10 years of BJP rule at the Centre. "Instead of involving in diversions, please respond to all these, Prime Minister," he said with the hashtag in Tamil "bathil sollunga Modi," seeking answers from the PM.

The PM earlier targeted the DMK over the Katchatheevu issue, alleging the ruling party did nothing to safeguard the state's interests. New details emerging on the issue of India handing over the island to Sri Lanka have unmasked the DMK's double standards totally, he said, citing a news report which claimed that then chief minister, the late M Karunanidhi had given his concurrence to the agreement despite his party, the DMK's public posturing against the deal.

The External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday claimed that Prime Ministers from the Congress displayed indifference about Katchatheevu island and gave away Indian fishermen's rights despite legal views to the contrary.

Prime ministers such as Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi dubbed Katchatheevu, given to Sri Lanka in 1974 as part of a maritime boundary agreement, as a "little island" and "little rock", he told a press conference, asserting that the issue has not cropped up abruptly but was always a live matter.

It has been frequently raised in Parliament and has been a matter of frequent correspondence between the Centre and the state government, Jaishankar said, adding that he has replied to the chief minister at least 21 times. Attacking the DMK over its public posturing against the agreement, Jaishankar said its leader and then chief minister M Karunanidhi was kept fully informed about the agreement, first reached in 1974 between India and Sri Lanka.

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