Chennai: DMK chief M Karunanidhi today announced that refraining from "the bashing of other parties" is included in his party's manifesto for the national election.
If his leaders keep that promise, it'll be a major departure for politics in Tamil Nadu, where acerbic charges are ferociously exchanged between Mr Karunanidhi's party and its rival, the AIADMK, headed by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
Mr Karunanidhi was accompanied today on stage by A Raja, his protege who spent several months on corruption charges and is being tried for one of India's largest financial scandals. Mr Raja, 50, has been accused of misusing his office as Telecom Minister in 2008 to allot mobile network licenses at throwaway prices to ineligible companies. That didn't get in the way of his being nominated as the DMK candidate for his constituency of the Nilgiris, which he won in the last general election of 2009.
The DMK's manifesto offers income tax breaks by raising exemption limits, takes a stand against foreign super-market chains being allowed to sell directly to Indian consumers and seeks the creation of a ministry to push for the welfare of fishermen, whose frequent arrests by the Sri Lankan navy are an emotive issue among voters.
However, the headline of the party's politics remains the exclusion of MK Alagiri from the list of its 35 candidates that was released yesterday. Mr Alagiri is the DMK chief's older son; he was suspended by Mr Karunanidhi in January for indiscipline after a sustained campaign to undermine his younger brother, MK Stalin, who has been picked as their father's political heir. (DMK chief's son, Alagiri, refused a ticket by his father)
Mr Alagiri said that he is contemplating launching his own party, but if that happens, it will be in two months, so he will sit out this election.