CHENNAI: The ruling DMK and Opposition AIADMK were engaged in an intense debate in the Assembly over the revamping of Moovalur Ramamirtham Ammaiyar Memorial Marriage Assistance Scheme as a Higher Education Assurance Scheme.
State Social Welfare and Women Empowerment Minister P Geetha Jeevan set the tone for the debate on Thursday when she said that only 24.5 per cent of the 3.34 lakh petitions received by the previous AIADMK regime were eligible for the gold for thaali scheme. “You did not give gold for thaali since 2018-19. You had stopped the scheme,” Geetha added, replying to the debate on the demand for grants for her department.
Leader of Opposition Edappadi K Palaniswami attributed the delay in distributing gold to the fluctuation of gold price and said, “No one came forward to participate in the tenders due to the price fluctuation. You can ask the department secretary. Do not blame the scheme. If there were shortcomings, you should set it right and implement the scheme.”
The LoP also blamed COVID for the project hitting a roadblock during the fag end of his tenure.
Rushing to the defense of his cabinet colleague, Chief Minister MK Stalin said, “We do not call it a bad scheme. There were shortcomings in the scheme. We understood it and transformed the scheme with the help of same officials.”
Not content with the CM’s reasoning, Palaniswami said the marriage assistance scheme encouraged women to pursue higher education. An equally persevering Chief Minister Stalin justified, “The scheme was revamped because of shortcomings. It was done with no bad intention. If you blame us, we can also list out the schemes revamped by you.”
Joining the issue, Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan said, “The scheme does not help achieve its two targets, encouraging education and providing unsecured credit. Alleviating value of the scheme is lost in giving the benefit to the women years after the marriage. Earlier, a good marriage was the best future for women. Now, women want education, equal rights and independence.”
Wrapping up the debate, Palaniswami asked the government to reconsider its decision and implement the gold for thali scheme.