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Campaign peaks in TN for urban polls: DMK, AIADMK cross swords

DMK president M K Stalin in a virtual address for the February 19 local polls said a majority of assurances made by his party in the run up to the Assembly election have been fulfilled.

Campaign peaks in TN for urban polls: DMK, AIADMK cross swords
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The campaign by parties in Tamil Nadu for the upcoming urban civic polls reached a fever pitch on Wednesday with the ruling DMK asserting that it has fulfilled most of its assurances made ahead of 2021 Assembly election while the main opposition AIADMK slammed it for not implementing promises.

DMK president M K Stalin in a virtual address for the February 19 local polls said a majority of assurances made by his party in the run up to the Assembly election have been fulfilled. Seeking votes for his party and allies, the CM listed several fulfilled promises including slashing milk price by Rs 3 per litre and fare free travel for women in town buses. Priority for the Tamil people in state government jobs (by making Tamil compulsory, as the qualifying norm for state services) and appointment of trained people belonging to all castes as priests in temples were among the other implemented promises, he cited. Stalin said his party-led regime is driven by the 'Dravidian model' which is 'social justice inclusive growth.' True growth is all about enhancing the living standards of all the people in the state rather than only a section of them, he said. ''That is Dravidian thought. Each and every scheme of ours is based on this.'' The lie repeated over a long period of time that the DMK is a party against Hindus has been 'broken into pieces,' Stalin said and referred to commencement of allotment under a Rs 1,000 crore fund for renovation of temples and retrieval of lands worth Rs 1,789 crore (180 acre) belonging to shrines.

''For those who do politics based on religion, their blood pressure will only increase if they look at Tamil Nadu. They will have a sense of frustration that despite their efforts nothing happened to the unity of people.'' He also reiterated his government's commitment to do away with NEET in its application to Tamil Nadu. The CM also targeted the saffron party-led Centre for 'not providing' Rs 8,989 crore to Tamil Nadu towards pandemic relief from the disaster relief fund and 'delaying' release of Rs 16,725 crore GST due. He also ridiculed the Centre over the Union Budget 2022 saying tax has been slashed for diamond while there is no assistance for people affected by coronavirus.

Several bigger issues in Tamil Nadu like the NEET that echoed during the last year's Assembly polls grabbed a large campaign space for the urban polls too rather than local civic issues. In his campaign, AIADMK top leader and former Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Wednesday slammed the ruling DMK as a 'corporate' entity. ''The DMK is not a political party, it is a corporate company,'' he said in his campaign at Krishnagiri district. Stalin had mocked at the AIADMK as a 'comedy drama company.' Listing DMK's Assembly election poll promises one after the other, Palaniswami asked the people if these were implemented, while a section of the gathering replied 'no.' The DMK had promised Rs 1,000 per month 'rights' assistance to women but 'did they give ?' he asked. Similarly, the AIADMK leader went on to list other assurances like Rs 100 subsidy every month for cooking gas cylinders and waiver of education loans taken by students. ''Did they implement?'' he asked repeatedly listing such promises. Stalin had given as many as 505 assurances ahead of the last year's Assembly election the AIADMK leader said and claimed that such promises could not be fulfilled by him. People would hence not be benefitted by the DMK regime, he said.

Since people would question the Chief Minister on such assurances, he is 'afraid' and thus could not meet the people face to face for polls, Palaniswami claimed. That was why Stalin chose the virtual campaign route for urban civic polls, the AIADMK leader alleged. Palaniswami appealed to the people to support the AIADMK and said the urban civic polls should serve as a 'lesson' to the ruling DMK. He also targeted the DMK regime over 'substandard' commodities in the 'Pongal' festival hampers distributed to beneficiaries and again hit out at the DMK regime over NEET.

''Only the AIADMK is committed to the people's welfare. Only our party nominees can address the people's problems and fulfill their aspirations. Please give an opportunity to AIADMK candidates to serve you.'' Meanwhile, a delegation of bishops of the Church of South India called on Stalin at the DMK headquarters here and extended their support to the candidates of ruling party led alliance.

AIADMK leader D Jayakumar ridiculed the DMK regime for uttering 'lies three times a day.' After remaining quiet for 8 months after assuming power, only days before the civic polls, Stalin has said that the Rs 1,000 assistance for women would be provided. Jayakumar, a former Minister, said Stalin however neither mentioned the date of launch nor the number of beneficiaries. He demanded that the DMK regime pay the assistance to women beneficiaries with arrears, which should be reckoned from the time of assumption of power, which is May 2021.

In Salem, DMK youth wing secretary Udhayanidhi Stalin said though the previous AIADMK regime had emptied the government's coffers leading to Rs 5 lakh crore debt burden, all the poll assurances were being fulfilled. Udhayanidhi said his party chief has promised that the Rs 1,000 assistance for women plan would also be fulfilled soon. Former Chief Minister and AIADMK top leader O Panneerselvam was among a host of other leaders who are campaigning for their respective parties in several parts of the state. DMK allies including the Congress and Left parties are also in the thick of poll action. BJP Tamil Nadu unit chief K Annamalai, PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss, Naam Tamizhar Katchi leader Seeman, Makkal Needhi Maiam president Kamal Haasan are among others who have been campaigning for the civic polls. Urban civic polls to fill 12,838 posts of ward members in 21 municipal corporations, 138 municipalities and 490 town panchayats is scheduled to be held on February 19. The campaign is set to end on February 17 and counting of votes would commence on February 22.

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