Chief Minister E Palaniswami – popularly known as EPS – announced Rs. 2000 each for 60 lakh families in Tamil Nadu. In his speech, today on the floor of the House, EPS listed the beneficiaries, including fishermen, weavers, potters, artisans and those in firecracker, leather and construction industries.
“This is a special monetary assistance. We have taken into account the hardships poor people are facing, most of whom, have been hit by drought and cyclone Gaja,” EPS said.
The cash benefit would cost the government Rs. 1200 crore at a time when the state already has Rs. 44,000 crore fiscal deficit and an outstanding debt of Rs. 3.97 lakh crore.
Earlier in January, the state government had announced Pongal gift of Rs. 1000 each for two crore family card holders at a cost of Rs. 2000 crore. However, the Madras High Court had directed the Tamil Nadu government to restrict this only to families below the poverty line.
Responding to the announcement, an AIADMK lawmaker told the house, “The 1000-rupees Pongal gift was the first sixer scored by the Chief Minister. This Rs. 2000 assistance is the second one. We expect a hattrick.”
Opposition DMK has called this “a bribe ahead of elections”, “It seems the cash benefit is out of concern but it’s nothing but an official bribe for votes.””Why didn’t they add this in the budget presented on Friday. Gaja cyclone hit in November; why do it this way now, making the budget a nonsense,” DMK lawmaker Mr Thiagarajan said.