CHENNAI: The ruling DMK and opposition AIADMK in Tamil Nadu are engaged in a war of words over the contents of the Pongal gift hamper.
On Wednesday, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin had announced the inclusion of one full sugarcane stalk in the Pongal gift hamper, which currently comprises 1 kg raw rice, 1 kg sugar and Rs 1,000 in cash.
AIADMK leader and former Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, popularly known as EPS, has said that it was the relentless campaign by his party to include sugarcane in the Pongal gift hamper that led the DMK government announce its inclusion.
The AIADMK, it may be recalled, had announced a series of agitations if sugarcane was not included as part of the Pongal gift hamper.
Meanwhile, DMK leader and Minister for Cooperation, K.R. Periyakaruppan, said that the state government's decision to make sugarcane part of the Pongal gift hamper was motivated by farmers' requests, and had nothing to do with AIADMK's threat to hold agitations.
The minister said that the inclusion of sugarcane in Pongal gift hamper will approximately cost the state exchequer Rs 70 crore.
He also said that it was because of Chief Minister Stalin's compassion for the farmers that sugarcane has been made part of the Pongal gift hamper.
Meanwhile, EPS, while speaking to mediapersons here, claimed that it is only because of the strong stand taken by the AIADMK that the state government announced to include sugarcane in the Pongal gift hamper, and not because the latter was taking an initiative.
On Thursday, EPS came out heavily against the DMK-led state government for the 'delay' in issuing work orders to the weavers for the Pongal free sari scheme.
He also said the weavers are facing difficulties as the state government has provided poor quality cotton bales to them weaving dhotis and saris meant for the Pongal gift scheme.
EPS accused the DMK government of derailing the scheme of providing free dhotis and saris as part of the Pongal gift hamper, which was started by late Chief Minister and AIADMK founder, M.G. Ramachandran.
EPS also asked Chief Minister M.K. Stalin to raise the monetary component in the pongal gift hamper from the existing Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000, which was the DMK leader's demand when he was in the opposition.
Meanwhile, the cashew farmers' associations in the state are now demanding that the state government should include cashew in the Pongal gift hamper, as more than one lakh cashew farmers in Tamil Nadu depend on the crop for a living.