Chennai: NDA ally Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) on Saturday stirred up a controversy, saying if voted to power, the party will make it mandatory for individuals under the age of 21 to take the consent of their parents for marriage in Tamil Nadu.
The party, which released its poll manifesto with this regressive election promise, came in for sharp criticism from opposition DMK, accusing it of stifling the fundamental rights of young couples.
In its manifesto, the party maintained that the move will prevent young girls from falling prey to “fake/staged love”, protect the existing family system and also save the future of the teenagers.
The poll manifesto was released by PMK founder S. Ramadoss, whose son and party leader Dr Anbumani Ramadoss was the union health minister during UPA 1 regime from 2004-09. PMK has forged an alliance with NDA to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. The other partner in the alliance is the ruling AIADMK.
The party has, on several occasions, openly blamed Dalit men for luring girls belonging to upper castes into marrying them. It also referred to other countries such as Philippines, Singapore, Japan and Brazil which have already made it mandatory for individuals below the age of 21 to get parental consent for marriage.
It said that even in India, the Karnataka High Court, in a judgement, has insisted upon parental consent. Therefore, the party believes that the same should be implemented in Tamil Nadu.
The DMK, which is the principal opposition party in Tamil Nadu, has also slammed the idea. A Saravanan, spokesperson of the DMK said, “Firstly, men below the age of 21 are not allowed to get married under the Indian law. Now if they feel that girls between the age of 18-21 are not mature enough to take decisions regarding their marriage, a reasonable demand from their side could have been to raise the marriageable age bar for girls. If the relationship is wrong, how is parental consent going to cure that wrong?”, he said.