Chennai: It is a war of offers in Tamil Nadu. The two leading parties, the DMK and AIADMK, are making offers and counteroffers to woo voters ahead of the Assembly election.
The DMK promised Rs 1,000 to housewives, while the ruling party the AIADMK upped the offer, and announced Rs 1,500, and six free gas cylinders for ration-card holders. The offers did not amuse actor-politician Kamal Haasan, the founder of Makkal Needhi Maiam, who alleged both the parties copied the cash offer from his party's promise to pay salary for housewives.
The incumbent AIADMK government had started the announcement of welfare schemes even before the election was notified. It promised to write off farm loans and loans against gold availed from cooperative banks as well as offered 10.5 per cent reservation to the Vanniyar community within the 20 per cent reservation meant for the most backward classes.
The Vanniyars form a formidable vote-bank in north Tamil Nadu. These promises, however, were made in DMK’s manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls.
Lofty promises are not new to Tamil Nadu. The Dravidian parties are known to offer sops to woo voters. The DMK, in 1967, rode to power on the promise of 4.5 kilograms of rice for one rupee for ration-card holders.
Later, both the DMK and AIADMK competed with each other in offering free electronic appliances to the electorate, though Tamil Nadu’s public debt is more than 20 per cent of the gross state domestic product.