Friday, March 25, 2011

Distribution of freebies in TN a worrying trend, says CEC

New Delhi: Promise of providing freebies like mixies and laptops to the people by political parties in Tamil Nadu is a "disturbing" trend, Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi said here today.

"We have been hearing news of parties in Tamil Nadu promising mixies and laptops to people in an attempt to impress them...this is a worrying trend and the public has been taking notice of it," he said addressing a lecture on 'Sustaining Electoral Process- India's initiatives'. 

On March 19, the ruling DMK in the state said it would distribute free mixies or grinders to women, free laptops to SC/ST students and free rice of 35 kg to BPL families if voted back to power.

The main Opposition party AIADMK, on the other hand, promised 20 kg of free rice for ration-card holders, laptops for students from classes XI, free fans,mixers and grinders to all and mineral water to BPL families, besides four gms of gold for 'Thali' (mangalsutra) free of cost to poor women and cable TV connections at subsidised rates.

Quraishi said that his office could do little to curb this trend as the parties had chosen the distribution of freebies as their election manifesto but the Election Commission would act if "there was any distortion in the list of expenditure of candidates" at the end of the campaigning process. 

He also said that those indulging in "unnecessary extravagances" in an attempt to "seduce the voters" would be reprimanded.

"Recently an observer caught a truck carrying chicken for a briyani party by one of the candidates in Tamil Nadu. Such ways to seduce the voters will not be encouraged," he said.

Elections to liberate people from ‘slavery'

The ensuing Assembly elections are not just about ushering in a change of government but also liberating the people of Tamil Nadu from “slavery,” said AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa here on Thursday.
In a blistering attack on hitting the campaign trail from Srirangam, her constituency, she said: “Over the last five years you have been facing various problems. Paramount among them is price rise. But, the DMK government, despite being part of the Union government, has not taken any steps to check price rise or solve any of your problems.”
The government had only contributed to the price rise. Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi supported the move to allow oil companies to fix the price of petrol and diesel. Over the last one year, the price of petrol was increased nine times by Rs.15 a litre.
Ms. Jayalalithaa, who started her campaign at Veeraswaram, criss-crossed thorough fares of the island town to address wayside meetings. At Raghavendra Arch, in front of the Rajagopuram of the Srirangam Ranganathaswamy Temple, she spoke from the roof top of her campaign vehicle, using a hydraulically lifted seat.
Making a comparison of the period during the pre-DMK government and the current price of various essential commodities and construction material, Ms. Jayalalithaa said the price of rice in the open market had gone up to Rs.42 a kg from Rs.15. The price of sugar went up to Rs.35 from Rs.13 a kg. Prices of thuvar dhal, tamarind and garlic had also risen.
The price of a truckload of sand had gone up to Rs.13,000 from Rs.2,500, while the price of a bag of cement had increased from Rs.150 to Rs.280. Brick was being sold at Rs.6 a piece. “You can build a house only in your dreams,” she told the residents, many of whom had turned out on the streets to catch a glimpse of her.
Under the DMK regime, Tamil Nadu faced a decline on all fronts. Industrial and agriculture production went down. The economy became sick and unemployment rose. Power cuts, rather than power generation, had increased. If voted to power, the AIADMK would put an end to power cuts. There was no protection for the lives and property of the people under the DMK government. “Corruption is rampant and pervades all government schemes. The 2G scam has compromised national security.” The Chief Minister, she charged, was not able to get the final verdict of the Cauvery Tribunal gazetted. Nor could he get the Supreme Court order in the Mullaperiyar dispute implemented.
Ms. Jayalalithaa promised permanent solution to problems faced by people residing around Ranganathaswamy Temple in selling their land. She also promised permanent protection against flooding in the town and improvements to infrastructure and basic amenities in the temple town.

Freebies galore in AIADMK manifesto

AIADMK general secretary and candidate of Srirangam constituency J. Jayalalithaa filing her nomination papers to the Returning officer P.Gunasekaran in Tiruchi on Thursday. Photo: M. Moorthy
Days after the ruling DMK promised either a mixie or a grinder to women, the AIADMK on Thursday promised a fan, a mixie and a grinder as freebies to all women in the State in its election manifesto.
“It is not ‘either/ or'; a beneficiary will get all the three,” AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa clarified after releasing her party's manifesto here on Thursday. Four grams of gold, in addition to Rs. 25,000 as marriage assistance (Rs. 50,000 and four grams of gold for beneficiaries holding a diploma or degree), six months of maternity leave along with Rs.12,000 assistance and bank loan to a maximum of Rs.10 lakh linked with 25 per cent subsidy component for self-help groups figure in the schemes pertaining to women.
Ms. Jayalalithaa unveiled a ‘Green Houses' scheme under which houses powered by solar energy would be given to families below the poverty line. For the landless poor, three cents of land will be provided free for construction of houses. A school student will receive four sets of uniform and a pair of shoes free of cost. To prevent dropouts, students at the higher secondary level will be provided with scholarships ranging from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 5,000. All students in arts and science colleges, engineering colleges and polytechnics will be provided with laptops free of cost, she promised.
Announcing the introduction of hospitals on wheels in rural areas, Ms. Jayalalithaa said 1,500 villages will be provided with 24-hour telemedicine centres.
By 2013, 5,000 MW of additional power will be generated and all households in rural and urban areas will get three-phase connection.
Ms. Jayalalithaa said her regime will provide 20 kg rice free of cost to all family cardholders and 20 litres of purified drinking water a month to all BPL families.

2G scam: Swamy’s complaint transferred to special court

Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy at Parliament House. File photoA Delhi court today transferred the private complaint of Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy in the 2G spectrum case to the special court constituted by the Supreme Court to deal with all cases related to the scam.

District Judge Pratibha Rani asked Mr. Swamy to appear before Special CBI Judge O.P. Saini, who is dealing with all the cases related to the 2G spectrum allocation.

Mr. Swamy appeared before the court and requested the District Judge to transfer his case to the special court.

The Janata Party leader, who had sought a probe into scam, had also raised concern about the possible threat to national security arising out of allocation of spectrum to companies which had sold off their major shares to foreign firms.

Mr. Swamy had also sought the court’s direction to appoint him as a public prosecutor to help the agency probe the case.

The CBI had earlier said it was investigating the angle of possible threat to internal security as per the concerns raised by Mr. Swamy.

The agency had told the court that it had been probing the 2G scam within the confines of the first information report registered by it.

Mr. Swamy, in his petition filed before the court, had said Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless, which were allotted licences, had sold their major shares to two foreign firms Etisalat DB and Telenor, which is “a major threat” to national security.

“The first two licencees, Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless, soon after the allocation of spectrum to them sold their controlling shares respectively to Etisalat DB and Telenor. The national security risk from these companies are highlighted by the Union Home Ministry as their connections go right into Pakistan,” he had said.

Mr. Swamy had earlier sought the court’s direction to the CBI to ask the Union Home Ministry, Research and Analysis Wing and other intelligence agencies to find out the bearings of 2G scam on national security.

Stalin promises free washing machine, fridge

Pudukottai, Mar 24 : Unruffled by the freebies announced by the rival AIADMK in its manifesto, Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin said Chief Minister M Karunanidhi would give free washing machines and refrigirators also if he comes back to power for a sixth term.

Campaigning for the party and its allies here, Mr Stalin said the DMK has promised in its election manifesto free mixie or grinder for household women, but ''Kalaignar'' would also give what has not been promised.

Reacting to AIADMK manifesto in which, the party has promised fans, mixies and grinders to household women, he said the DMK leader would even give free washing machines to reduce the sufferings of the household women.

PMK founder-leader Dr S Ramadoss said the AIADMK has come out with a manifesto on the lines of that of the DMK, fearing defeat in the elections.

The people were convinced that the DMK, on coming back to power, would implement its poll promises as it did after the 2006 Assembly elections.

Mr Karunanidhi had not only implemented his poll promises, but also announced schemes like free housing and free medical insurance, which did not figure in the manifesto, he said.

Jayalalithaa kicks off campaign, says DMK government. looted country

Tiruchirapalli, Mar 24 : Opposition AIADMK General Secretary J Jayalalithaa kickstarted the campaign for the April 13 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, launching a tirade against the DMK for ''looting the country through the 2G spectrum scam.'' Launching the campaign at Visveswaram in Srirangam constituency, from where she is seeking election, Ms Jayalalithaa hit out at the DMK government for indulging in corruption and failing to contain the price rise.

Having looted the country to the tune of Rs 1.76 lakh crore in the 2G spectrum allocation, the DMK leader was only taking care of the interest of his family, she alleged.

She also charged the DMK government with looting Rs 50,000 crore in illegal sand mining and another Rs 80,000 crore in granite mining.

Accusing Chief Minister M Karunanidhi of failing to contain the rise in prices of essential commodities, the AIADMK leader said Ponni rice was sold at Rs 12 per kg when she was in power.

It was now being sold at Rs 44 a kg, she charged.

There was a fourfold increase in the prices of all commodities. But the DMK government had failed to take any measure to contain the rise she alleged.

Exuding confidence that the AIADMK led front would emerge victorious, she said the people of the state want the ''corrupt'' DMK government to go. Their wish would come true.

Ms Jayalalithaa assured the people of Shrirangam, especailly those who were residing in temple lands for years, that she would get them patta. She would also come out with the flood prevention scheme if the AIADMK was voted to power.

Congress workers attack party headquarters in Chennai

Chennai: Factionism in Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) came to the fore for the second consecutive day when a section of Congress workers attacked the party headquarters Satyamurthy Bhavan here following denial of tickets to contest the April 13 state assembly polls.

The police said a group of about 50 persons damaged property on the premises. An office-bearer at Satyamurthy Bhavan said the protestors had damaged some window panes besides lights.

The protestors also raised slogans against TNCC president KV Thangkabalu, the police said.

The incident follows developments on Wednesday when a section of Youth Congress workers had burnt the effigy of Thangkabalu protesting against his wife Jayanthy being given a ticket from Mylapore constituency. 

Tamil Nadu freebie wars: AIADMK ups DMK's promises

Chennai: It is raining promises of freebies in Tamil Nadu polls. AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa Thursday exceeded her arch rival DMK's promises to the voters in a bid to win the April 13 assembly polls.

Jayalalithaa has promised freebies ranging from free laptops to students, fans, grinders, mixies, rice, housing plot, cash assistance for students, free water and many other things, outdoing the DMK.

Her promises were contained in the party's much-waited manifesto, which she released while filing her nomination papers for election from the Srirangam constituency - around 330 km from here.

'Ours is a growth oriented manifesto and we are going to increase productivity of milk, cotton, rice, and industry,' she told reporters after releasing the manifesto in Tiruchirapalli, about 335 km from here.

For the student community, Jayalalithaa has promised free laptops at senior school and college level, and cash assistance of Rs.1,000-Rs.5,000 to students up to Class 12 of all schools to reduce school drop-out rates.

The DMK has promised free laptops to first-year students of professional colleges.

To attract women voters, Jayalalithaa promised a free fan, grinder and mixie. She said her government would increase the maternity leave to six months and give a cash allowance of Rs.12,000. She also promised increase in loan assistance for self-help groups to Rs.10 lakh, of which Rs.250,000 will be a subsidy.

The DMK has promised a free grinder or a mixie and the loan assistance of Rs.400,000 for self-help groups.

The AIADMK boss also promised half a sovereign gold for 'mangalsutra' for poor women getting married, and for women who have completed diploma education the marriage assistance will be increased to Rs.50,000.

Jayalalithaa said her government would build a green house on three cent land to below-poverty-line (BPL) families at an outlay of Rs.180,000 per house. She also promised extension of the scheme for the four million strong middle class with a subsidy of Rs.100,000.

She also promised 20 kg free rice monthly and 20 litres of water daily. The DMK has promised 35 kg free rice monthly.

For those who do not own land, Jayalalithaa promised allotment of three cents land for construction of house, and some action in favour of those who have borrowed housing loan from cooperative societies.
For the agriculture sector, the AIADMK has promised appropriate steps for ushering in of second green and white (milk) revolution if voted to power.

Jayalalithaa also said her party would hike the procurement price for sugarcane to Rs.2,500 per tonne.
She said action would be taken for doubling of cotton production and to double the cotton farmers income. The party also promised encouraging organic farming.

She said AIADMK government would distribute 60,000 milch cows free in 6,000 villages to increase milk production. For BPL families, she has promised four free goats.

For the fishing community, the AIADMK has promised increase in cash assistance during non-fishing season, setting up of fish processing parks, and sea food export processing zone.

Jayalalithaa has promised loan assistance for educated youth for starting business, and also 25 percent reservation of government orders for the new entrepreneurs.

For the senior citizens, the AIADMK boss promises free bus passes for inter and intra-state travel. And for the differently abled persons, she promised three percent reservation in government jobs.

The monthly assistance for senior citizens, destitute women and others would be increased to Rs.1,000.
She also promised extension of freebies to Sri Lankan refugees in the state.

Jayalalithaa also promised to nationalise the cable television business in the state while protecting the last mile service providers. She also promised recovery of land 'forcibly taken over' by the family members of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi and DMK Ministers.

Queried about the funds for the schemes she said: 'You will see when that happens and we have explained that in our manifesto.'

According to her, the DMK government has left the state in a debt of over Rs.100,000 crore and it is going to be a big task to bring the state out of the debt burden.