Even as the two major Tamil Nadu political parties are working out their seat sharing maths for the April 6 assembly elections, they are also in the process of finalising their poll promises that would attract the voters.
The election is crucial both for the ruling AIADMK led by Chief Minister K Palaniswami and the opposition DMK led by M.K. Stalin and their manifestoes are going to be very populist with lots of freebies thrown in, said political analysts.
The AIADMK government recently announced a loan waiver for farmers, loans against ornaments taken by the poor and farm labourers, loans to women self help groups (SHG), reservation for Vanniars, 24-hour three phased power for agriculture, all pass for students of 9, 10 and 11 classes and others.
The government is already implementing various schemes like free laptops for students, free cattle, two wheeler purchase subsidy scheme for women and others.
"There will be several welfare schemes and more freebies. The manifesto will also promise schemes for increasing self employment for the youth. There will be promises on giving government services online," an AIADMK leader told IANS preferring anonymity.
"It is a do or die poll for Chief Minister Palaniswami. The government is facing an anti-incumbency factor. Also, the 10.5 per cent reservation for Vanniars has made other castes unhappy and this may go against the government. So, the manifesto has to be populist," a political analyst told IANS not wishing to be named.
Continuing further he said for the DMK its manifesto has to be populist as it has to counter the loan waiver, Vanniar reservation and other decisions announced by the government.
"The DMK has been saying that the state government had implemented what it has been promising the people. So, its manifesto has to be populist and different," he added.
It is learnt that the ruling party will wait for the DMK to come out with its manifesto before announcing its own.
Political analyst Kolahala Srenivaas is of the view that the manifestoes of the two parties would be like a vision statement as they have been speaking a lot about their schemes.
"The AIADMK government has done what it had promised like the loan waivers for farmers/poor/SHGs. The government also announced the `all pass scheme' for students of 9, 10 and 11 classes," Sreenivas told IANS.
"The AIADMK government was not able to make any new announcement relating to welfare schemes. The party in its manifesto may enhance the benefits under its existing welfare schemes," Sreenivas said.
According to him, the government is trying to attract the rural votes as all its major announcements were focused on the rural populace while the DMK party seems to be focused on the youth.
"The DMK was vociferous against the Tasmac (state government liquor retailing company) during the 2016 polls and promised that it would introduce prohibition. But this time around it is silent on that," Sreenivas told IANS.
Perhaps the party is silent on Tasmac as the government would need revenue to implement the populist schemes the DMK would be announcing in its manifesto.
"The DMK's stand on Tasmac will be known in its manifesto," Sreenivas said.
Be that as it may, other parties are also giving the finishing touches to their manifestoes.
"We will be announcing our manifesto soon," a leader of Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) floated by actor Kamal Hassan told IANS.
The BJP is expected to finalise its manifesto soon.
"We are hoping for Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to release it during the second week of March. The manifesto may contain promises like taking Hindu temples away from government control, appointment of additional hands in the subordinate judiciary and police force, a High Court bench in Coimbatore, transparency in government," a BJP leader told IANS on condition of anonymity.
From the 'three measures' (around 4.5 kg) of rice for Re 1 scheme introduced by DMK founder C.N. Annadurai in 1967, competitive populism has been touching new heights in the state with the passage of time.
The freebies include rice, free consumer durables like cycle, colour television, laptop, mixer-grinder, fans, livestock, loan waiver, free power and gold for brides, among others.