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Jayalalithaa trumps DMK offers of freebies
Chennai, Mar 24 (Agencies):
Published on 24 Mar. 2011 11:58 PM IST
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Politicians in Tamil Nadu have never been shy about using freebies to lure votes, but this time around, the two main political parties are virtually bursting at the seams with their offerings.
Jayalalithaa scored the advantage of going second with her manifesto; her political rival, Chief Minister M Karnuanidhi, announced his on March 19. Jayalalithaa has both copied and improved upon that.
So while Mr Karunanidhi’s DMK promised free mixers-and-grinders for women, Jayalalithaa has added fans to the mix. The DMK announced free laptops for all college students - Jayalalithaa has extended the opportunity to log on to students of Class 11 and 12. And while the DMK has committed to 35 kilos of free rice for families below the poverty line, Jayalalithaa says all ration card holders will qualify for 20 kilos of free rice every month, while poorer families will get 20 litres of mineral water each.
During its five years in power, the DMK has spent 12,000 cores on paying for the freebies it offered in the last elections - expenditure that has been scorned repeatedly by Jayalalithaa. Perhaps, she’s reconsidered that opinion since she’s now offering four grams of gold to brides from poor families for their “mangalsutras”. If Tamil Nadu picks her as its leader, she’ll also throw in 60,000 cows for 6,000 villages.
She may not have been in office, but the last five years have been good to the AIADMK leader. Her assets - declared today as she filed her nomination papers for the elections - have doubled from Rs. 24.65 crores to Rs. 51 crores.
Their strategy may be the same but they’re choosing different routes to potential power. While the AIADMK has picked a new constituency that’s closer to Chennai, the Chief Minister is moving away from the capital.
He has opted for his home district of Tiruvarur, abandoning the urban Chennai constituency of Chepauk; she has left rural Andipatti for the temple town of Srirangam because she says she wants to be closer to Chennai.
Mr Karunandhi’s decision to head to his home district as a candidate is motivated, sources say, by an attempt to avoid any sort of voter penalty for the 2G spectrum scam. A Raja, former Telecom Minister and senior DMK leader is now in jail for gifting spectrum in 2008 at inexplicably low prices to companies that allegedly rewarded him with kickbacks. Mr Karunandihi says that Mr Raja has not been proved guilty, and that the controversy is unlikely to affect rural voters.

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