Salem: With the election fever at its pitch in Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa does not forget to list the multiple freebies her government has distributed.
The handouts include laptops, mixers, grinders, fans, gold coins and school kits.
As per a report in NDTV, a rough estimate suggests that the state government may have spent close to Rs 21,000 crore on them.
However, the DMK has alleged that the products are substandard.
They have also said that contracts to supply these items were given in an opaque manner.
The report also said that laptops were supplied by Chinese laptop maker Lenovo and have drawn few complaints.
But complaints have been received over malfunctioning of free mixers, grinders and fans, procured by Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation.
The website quoted a family in a village near Salem saying that the moment they plugged in the mixer, its power cord sparked and the appliance died.
On the other hand, the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation have said that they used multiple companies to source these appliances.
They were also quoted as saying that appliances were procured under strict terms.
The criteria is said to be not just lowest price, but production capacity, bank credentials and past performance of the company.
The website further says that of the companies that supplied fans, only two appeared to be genuine manufacturers - the Hyderabad-based Yash International and Airoware International.
They were registered as separate companies but with a common director and had a functioning website listing various types of fans and confirmed they had supplied to the Tamil Nadu government.
But companies like Chennai-based Arunachala Impex and Bharat Agri International Trading Ltd, which bagged contracts for mixers and fans, described themselves as trading companies.
They procured mixers and fans from manufacturers and sold them to the state government.
An official at Arunachala was quoted by NDTV as saying, "We do all businesses like pulses, electronic goods, geometry boxes etc. We are traders and are eligible to do all business."
However, a person at Bharat Agri declined to comment when asked from where they procured these items.
When TNCS Corporation was asked to clarify an official said that in some cases, contracts for freebies are given to traders who have partnerships with manufacturers who make these appliances at competitive rates.
And, quite often, those manufacturers are based in China.
The companies that had won tenders to supply grinders, at least five out of six were based in Coimbatore.
Almost all were manufacturers.