Poll freebies on sale in Tamil Nadu

Poll freebies on sale in Tamil Nadu .

     The free television sets that his government has been doling out to the masses are finding their way to shops and godowns for as little as Rs 2,000.

     This has prompted the chief minister to direct the Tamil Nadu DGP to crack down on the sale and purchase of these colour TV sets. “It’s an offence to either sell or purchase these TVs,” senior DMK minister K. Anbazhagan says.

     Rival Jayalalithaa thinks that in a state battered by rain and floods, basic amenities are a must, not TV sets. “It’s an act of deceiving the people.” Most of the families already have a TV set, so the second one, even if it comes for free, is a real burden. No wonder these are being sold off,” she adds in an I-knew-it vein.

     With freebies on sale becoming a headache for the government, it is searching for means to make it sure that the beneficiaries of the Free Colour Television Sets Scheme actually catch their favourite programmes on these rather than make fast bucks.
Apart from Madurai and Salem, the sets are finding their way to shops even in Cheppakam, the chief minister’s constituency.

      “We already have a TV in our house. It’s better to sell the one supplied by the government,” is the standard refrain of people in Chindatripet here.

Chennai police commissioner Nanchil Kumaran warns that purchasing the television sets from beneficiaries will attract provisions of the notorious Goondas Act.
     Of the plethora of freebies announced by the DMK in its 2006 election manifesto, TV and rice at Rs two a kg were believed to have provided the winning edge to the party over rival AIADMK. Accordingly, these are provided to select beneficiaries in each district every month.

     Till last December 13, the government doled out 2,448,698 TV sets. The 2007-’08 financial allotment for purchasing 30 lakh TV sets is Rs 750 crore.

“Instead of fulfilling basic needs of the people like building good roads and proper school buildings, the government is repeatedly saying it would carry on with the TV scheme,” Jayalalithaa says. “Most of the households have television sets. An extra set is a burden to keep at home.”
An AIADMK legislator’s father and other relatives, though, have been beneficiaries under this scheme in Erode district.
     Undeterred by the criticism, Karunanidhi maintains that in each of the 234 Assembly constituencies, 10,000 TV sets will be provided.

 Actor-turned-politician Vijaykant’s charges that the scheme lacks transparency.

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