DMK offers free rice, grinders to poor, laptops to students
Chennai: From free grinders to 35 kg free rice every month for 1.6 million poor families, free bus passes for senior citizens to free laptops for Dalit engineering students, increase in old age pension to new insurance scheme for fishermen, the DMK manifesto released here Saturday has offered sops to all.
It also talked about an increase in loan assistance to women self-help groups.
Released by party president and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, the manifesto lined up a range of sops in a bid to woo a cross section of voters for the April 13 assembly elections.
"The DMK party fulfilled most of its promises made in its 2006 election manifesto. The party will do what it has said and that it will say what it will do. It is a manifesto for the poor," Karunanidhi said while releasing the manifesto.
Speaking toa news agency, DMK MP Kanimozhi said: "I feel the manifesto has addressed the needs of all sections of the society. It is a winning manifesto."
If the party's 2006 manifesto was termed the hero of last assembly elections, this time it will be the heroine, Karunanidhi told reporters recently.
Announcing the continuation of "one kg rice for Re.1" scheme and distribution of pulses and fortified wheat at subsidised rates, Karunanidhi said the poor identified as Anthyodhaya card-holders will get their quota of 35 kg rice free of cost instead of Re.1 per kg they have to pay now.
Even though there is a case pending in the Supreme Court against the government's scheme to distribute free colour televisions, Karunanidhi this time around promised a choice of free grinder or mixer to ease the household work burden of women voters.
The manifesto has more for women voters, including an increase in loan assistance for self-help groups for their economic advancement by Rs.150,000 to Rs.400,000, of which Rs.200,000 will be a government subsidy.
It also promised increasing the maternity leave for government servants by a month to four months and raising the financial assistane to pregnant women to Rs.10,000.
He also announced free laptops to engineering students belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
Announcing the extension of Metro rail services in the state capital to industrial areas like Sriperumbudur, Karunanidhi said Metro rail services would be introduced in major cities like Coimbatore and Madurai.
The next DMK government will see that every district in the state has a medical/engineering college and also a university, he said.
The party promised teaching of foreign languages like French, Spanish, Arabic and Mandarin in all universities for the benefit of students taking up jobs overseas.
In order to woo the fishing community, Karunanidhi promised increase in subsidized diesel and kerosene allocation and a new insurance scheme for them.
The DMK also offered a waiver of non-farm loans and their interest in stages, distribution of subsidised farm inputs to farmers at their door steps, special scheme for the socio-economic development of the farmers and Rs.10,000 assistance for implementing drip irrigation systems.
Karunanidhi said his government would urge the central government for nationalisation of rivers and also interlinking rivers in south India.
He said the DMK government would urge the centre to retrieve the Katchatheevu, a wasteland of an island, ceded to Sri Lanka in the 1970s.