With the Assembly election in Tamil Nadu just a few months away, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Saturday announced all rice ration card holders in the state would be given Rs2,500 cash along with a gift hamper for Pongal, the harvest festival. The distribution would begin on January 4.
Incidentally, the announcement was made within hours of Palaniswami launching the AIADMK’s early poll campaign from his home constituency of Edappadi in Salem district of western Tamil Nadu. The gift hamper would contain 1kg rice, sugar, a sugarcane, 20 grams of cashew nuts, raisins and cardamom and dhoti and saree.
Leader of Opposition and DMK president MK Stalin charged that the announcement was made with an eye on the elections.
As on date there are 2.06 crore rice ration card holders in Tamil Nadu. While the State has now been used to such freebies, this time the amount is on the higher side. Last Pongal, the rice ration card holders were given Rs1,000 each.
The Chief Minister justified the increased gift amount citing the COVID-19 pandemic. “Pongal is an auspicious day for Tamils. Unfortunately, this year many people have lost jobs and livelihoods to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. Besides, in the Cauvery Delta region, rains and cyclones have caused devastation. Therefore, to ensure that all Tamils get to celebrate the festival, a cash gift of Rs 2,500 would be given,” he said.