Women in focus as Jayalalithaa rains sops in manifesto

PTI5_1_2016_000190B Jayalalithaa appears to have decided to stay strong in the minds of women voters who have always sympathised for her | PTI
  • Free mobile phone for every card holder, free wi-fi in public places and free internet along with laptops for 11th and 12th standard students are major highlights of the manifesto

It is literally raining of sops in the name of welfare schemes in Tamil Nadu as both the rival camps competing with one another in proving more populist hoping to make a rich electoral harvest. If the DMK’s manifesto with 501 promises reads like a book, Jayalalithaa’s 41-page manifesto, though released just a week before elections, does not lag behind. In fact, she makes an attempt to beat her bête noire M. Karunanidhi, at his own game by trying to woo the women voters. The AIADMK czarina seeks to prove a point that she is more prepared to take on her arch-rival even at the last moment, this time not by churning the state with mixers and grinders or consumer goods, but by pandering populism.

Even while showering the electorate, particularly the young women with a bounty, she had set her priorities clear by declaring in no uncertain terms her determination to continue in power and eliminate the DMK. By increasing gold for Mangalsutra for women awaiting marriage from four grams to one sovereign, allowing 50 per cent subsidy on scooters for young women, increasing the assistance to pregnant women from Rs 12,000 to Rs 18,000 and by offering auto driving training for women and subsidy for them to buy autos, Jayalalithaa appears to have marched ahead in the game of one-upmanship. She has decided to stay strong in the minds of women voters who have always sympathised for her.

Unlike the DMK, which offered smart phone for the farmers, the AIADMK assures to provide free mobile phone for every ration card holder in the state. Free wi-fi in public places and free internet along with laptops for 11th and 12th standard students are other major highlights of the manifesto.

The high-point of the DMK manifesto was development and setting up of Lokayuktha. Jayalalithaa also promised the formation of Lokayuktha.

In showering sops, Jayalalithaa has gone a step ahead of the DMK by offering 100 units free electricity for every household. By this 78 lakh households in the state need not pay electricity charges.

The other highlights in the manifesto include:

  • Free bus travel facility for senior citizens will be extended to all districts in the state

  • Arasu Cable TV to continue and free set top box for every connection

  • Assistance of renovation for churches and mosques

  • Free wi-fi in all public places like bus stands, complexes and parks

  • Vitamin A, D and iron tablets

  • Breakfast for schoolchildren along with free noon meal under the nutritious meal scheme

  • Women will be given driving training and subsidy will be given to buy autos

  • Drinking water will be supplied in all panchayats, town panchayats and municipalities

  • Maternity assistance leave to be increased from six months to nine months

  • Technical institutes and vocational institutes to be set up

  • Subsidy for small tea growers

  • Government will pay educational loans for those who cannot afford it

  • Amma banking card through which poor and the middle class can avail easy financial assistance and can repay the loans through easy instalments. All bank transactions can be done, payments made and govt schemes availed with the help of the card.

  • Rs 100 crore collateral guarantee fund to help MSME sector avail easy loans

  • Rs 500 crore Amma venture capital fund to help facilitate start-ups in the MSME sector

  • New granite policy and government will take over the sale of mineral sand

  • Employment for one person in every family

  • Relief to fishermen during no-fishing season will be hiked to Rs 5,000; Housing scheme for fishermen will be implemented

  • Crop loan, short term and long-term loans will be waived for small and micro farmers

  • Pending dues from sugarcane companies will be given immediately

  • Copra will be purchased directly from farmers when prices go down

  • Irrigation canal, check dams and barrages will continue to be implemented

  • Avinashi - Athiadavu scheme will be implemented

  • Free Amma kit, sanitary napkins will be given

  • Existing Amma full body checkups will be expanded to all districts

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