It’s raining freebies in poll-bound Tamil Nadu

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Launch of Pongal gift hamper distribution
a woman beneficiary receives the gift on 21st December
Major political parties, including the ruling AIADMK, are in poll mode and it has started raining largesse on Tamil Nadu voters particularly minorities. The DMK and AIADMK are vying each other to win the hearts of minorities in return for their votes.
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has commenced the distribution of Pongal gift hampers to 2.6 crore ration card holders on 21st. At a function held at the Secretariat, members of nine families received the gift hampers containing a sum of Rs. 2,500, raw rice, sugar ( one kg each), 5 feet long sugar cane, cashew, raisins ( 20 grams each) and cardamom ( 5 gram) with a cloth bag. From January 4, the gift hampers will be distributed through fair price shops. The State government has allocated a sum of Rs 5,604.84 crore towards implementing this scheme. Free saree and dhoti to the needy families for the Pongal festival was launched on the same day. In all, 1.8 crore sarees and dhotis procured at a cost of Rs 484.25 crore will be distributed free of cost.
Chief Minister Palaniswamy, while kicking off AIADMK's election campaign from home constituency Edapadi in Salem district on 19th of this month., has announced Pongal bonaza for over 2.6 crore ration card holders in the light of Covid-19 pandemic.
Last Sunday (20th), speaking at a Christmas function in Chennai, the CM announced that grant given to the Christians for their pilgrimage to Jerusalem (believed to be the birth place of Jesus) was increased to 37,000 from Rs. 20,000. In February this year, the government had invited applications from Christians to avail the financial aid to undertake tour to the holy land for a period of ten days. Earlier in the month he launched 2,000 Amma mini Clinics (like mohalla clinics in Delhi).
The AIADMK is trying to hit a hat trick by winning third successive term. This will be the first assembly poll that it faces without its charismatic leader J Jayalalithaa. The rival DMK is going to fight the assembly poll for the first time after the demise of M Karunanidhi. The yet–to-be-named political party of Rajini Kanth, Kamal Hassan’s Makkal Needhi Maiyam (MNM) Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM and some more fledglings will be testing their political fortunes as a debut.
In this election, caste, community and religion would be a major factor in selection and fielding of candidates rather than their skill, popularity and winnability. The absence of Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi will have impacts in their political terrains. Now with the awakening among voters, particularly the resurgence of Hindu nationalism, it will play a crucial role and spoil sport for Dravidian majors. Rajini’s party would be based on spiritual faiths. The voters who are fed up with Dravidian majors and their corrupt, caste based, Hindu phobic, minority appeasement policies, may try an alternative this time. Both the Congress and DMK are hopeful of keeping minority vote bank intact who would be with them as in the past. They also know that getting Hindus votes would not be easy. With that both Dravidian majors (DMK and AIADMK) meeting Mutt heads, visiting temples to prove that they are not anti-Hindus. Earlier in the month, while visiting food hit areas after Cyclone Nivar and Buveri in Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and Thanjavur district, Chief Minister offered prayers at the Nagore Dargah and Vailankanni Church at Nagapattinam.

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In 2019 pongal gift hanger distribution launch function
TN BJP chief, who hails from a Dalit community is viewed as their leader by the community who will take care of them. Krishnaswamy’s Puthiya Tamizhagam, another dalit outfit) is supporting BJP, will be a blessing for it. During the Vel yatra, the rousing spontaneous welcome it had received all the way from Tiruttani to Thiruchendur, despite all hurdles created by ruling government, has forced the Dravidian parties to change their poll strategies. BJP has become an important and a major player in TN poll turf. It is the reason for the bonanzas raining on minorities. During the pandemic time, festivals and functions of minorities were allowed but it was denied for Hindu temples. DMK and AIADMK organsied meetings with large gatherings throwing Covid-19 norms into air but banned BJP’s functions.
A senior journalist said AIADMK has directed TN minister Nilofer Kafeel and former MP A Anwhar Raajhaa to take steps to get Muslim votes. These two leaders’ recent outpourings are directed against BJP and they are trying to create an image that AIADMK would not fight election in the company of BJP. Their speeches are viewed as the stand of the party. It may ditch BJP if it feels track with BJP will ruin its poll prospects. It had also deputed former MP and Journalist A. W. Rabi Bernard to interact with Christian community. DMK, on its part, is taking part in Christmas and other religious festival of minorities, a platform to be used for political campaigning and reassure them that their interest would be taken care, if DMK comes to power. SC/ST wing of Tamil Nadu Congress party hold a meet rolling out its own caste agenda. It was attended by retired IAS officers. PMK has renewed its demand for 20 percent reservation for Vanniyars. The state government has announced that Devendra kulathar, Kadaiyar, Kaladi,Kudumbar, Pallar, Vathiriyar and Pannadi) placing under the Devendra Vallalar.
“Now the question is, the symbolic launch (broken gesture) of Pongal gift hamper, burqa clad women was seen receiving the same. What they do with it. What is the relevance for this Muslim woman? Can’t they find Hindu women to receive from the CM? Pongal is a festival for Tamils to thank the Sun God and cattle which are part of their farming activities. Muslims are not Tamils and never celebrate any Hindu festivals like Pongal. TN government to show its secular identity, could have included beneficiaries from all community? Can’t the same logic should be followed in giving benefits that are extended to minority community related festivals? During the Ramdan, it gave 5,450 tons of raw rice to 2,895 odd mosques in the state free of cost. Like Pongal gift covering all religions including Muslims, Christians and others, AIADMK government did not give rice to Hindus either during Ramdan or Aadi month to make gruel to Goddesses. It is a clear case of minority appeasement and taking Hindus for rides. It also gave free of cost 20 kg of sandal wood logs for sandal smearing ceremony for the 463rd annual Kanthuri Santhana koodu festival at Nagore Dargah this year. No such largesse were extended to Hindu temples which is run by HR and CE department. HR and CE loots the money of Hindu temples and spends other than purposes earmarked for. ‘While Waqf boards, churches are free from government controls and enjoying fund allocations for maintenance, up keep, salary of maulvis, maulanas , getting aid for running schools and educational institutions to admit students of their own religion with a freedom to recruitment’, points out Hindu outfit leaders.
Former TN CM Jayalalithaa had announced financial aid of Rs 40,000 per person for air travel to Manosarovar and Rs.10,000 towards those visiting Muktinath, one of the 108 Vaishnavite shrines. For Christians, it is Rs 37,000 (now) for Jerusalem pilgrimage. Haj pilgrim muslims are also given subsidies.