The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) on Sunday announced its election manifesto that was filled with the usual freebies. Among the over 160 announcements, the biggest surprise from the EPS-OPS-led party came on the issue of the Citizenship amendment laws.
The AIADMK said it would make every effort to ask the central government to withdraw the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that had seen a mass protest, especially among Muslims, across the country before the coronavirus spread. However, the AIADMK had voted in support of the law in the Rajya Sabha three years ago.
The announcement is being seen as an outreach to the minority community ahead of the April 6 Assembly election. The ruling party, headed by Edappadi Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam, also promised to subsidise expenses of pilgrims on Haj and to Jerusalem.
The BJP that was left red-faced over the announcement said it will discuss the matter with its ally. Party leader CT Ravi told News18, “It is not harming anybody. Why they are raising the issue. Our party stands with CAA. For several years, they (those awaiting citizenship) are waiting for justice. We have given that. Our party is committed to that.”
Stating that there is no question of dropping CAA, he said the promise was made by the AIADMK and not BJP-led NDA. Earlier, in a tweet, he said irrespective of who opposes the CAA, the legislation will not be scrapped.
DMK owner @mkstalin says that his party will continue to fight against the #CAA.Why is Stalin opposing a law that would provide Citizenship to oppressed Hindus, Sikhs & Christians from Pakistan & other Nations?
Stalin or anyone else can oppose it, the CAA will not be scrapped.
— C T Ravi 🇮🇳 ಸಿ ಟಿ ರವಿ (@CTRavi_BJP) March 14, 2021
His colleague Narayanan Tirupati said the BJP would convince its ally over the issue. “We will tell them it won’t affect any Indian. We all know some forces are lobbying against this law but we will convince our alliance partner,” he told News18.
The announcement also came in for a sharp criticism from the MK Stalin-led Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), which has also promised to work towards ending scrapping the new law in its manifesto released on Friday. The AIADMK is in alliance with the BJP, having yielded 20 Assembly seats to the saffron party in the state.
DMK spokesperson A Saravanan said the promise was a “cruel joke”. “Who is AIADMK trying to fool. If not for ADMK’s 12 votes in the Rajya Sabha, this would not have been law. Their vote decided the fate of the CAA. They should apologise to people of Tamil Nadu for allowing enactment of this draconian law,” Saravanan said, adding that the DMK had in fact submitted two crore signatures from Tamil Nadu alone against the law to President Ram Nath Kovind.
Asked about this promise and how it affects the ruling party’s equation with the BJP, AIADMK spokesperson Kovai Sathyan said, “There is a misconception about CAA and the opposition is taking advantage of this and spreading misinformation in minds of people. So we are asking the Centre to have a clear-cut policy on CAA and NRC so that there is no room for rumour-mongering.”
He said the AIADMK wants the Centre to come out with a roadmap on the entire issue so that people are not misguided. “The people know they can walk the talk with the AIADMK. We don’t make fantasy announcements that are impossible.”
“You won’t have to wash your own clothes if the AIADMK comes back to power. In fact, don’t even budge out of your home, your rations will be home delivered.”
The party, which on earlier occasions had given away television laptops and mixer grinders, promised a slew of freebies yet again in its manifesto that was released on Sunday ahead of the election slated for April 6. Among them were ‘Amma’ washing machines and ‘Amma’ solar-powered stoves.
Besides, every household in the state will get six LPG cylinders for free every year. Having been in power for 10 years, the party is faced with an anti-incumbency wave. And, bereft of its most popular leader ‘Amma’ or J Jayalalithaa, it is again taking the freebies route to appease voters. If voted back to power, the ruling camp also promised ‘Amma’ low-cost housing scheme, besides waiver of education loans. It has already waived loans taken against pledged gold, farm loans and those taken by women self-help groups.
A monthly payout of Rs 1,500 was also promised to all women heads of family (this was announced earlier on Women’s Day), besides one government job for each family.
It also promised to rename Madurai airport with Muthuramalinga Thevar’s name. Further, like the DMK, it promised to cut petrol and diesel prices, and monthly electricity meter reading instead of the present bimonthly exercise.
Some of the other announcements:
– Setting up an organic farming research centre
– An incentive of Rs 25,000 for drivers to buy auto-rickshaws
– Free 2GB internet data for college students
– Free cable connection
– Cash dole of Rs 2,500 to be given ahead of every Pongal to families belonging to below poverty level (BPL) category
– Newly married couples will be given silk clothes, household essentials and silver anklet at the time of wedding
– MSP for key commodities, including turmeric, onions, rice, sugarcane and bananas
– 200 ml milk/milk powder to be provided to each school student
– Islamic university in the name of Quaid e Millath