- Of all the elections carried out in the country, one of the most intriguing, interesting, and dramatic polls plays out in the Southern industrial hub of Tamil Nadu. The Dravidian state is dominated by the two prominent political parties in All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). Whereas the AIADMK had stalwarts like late MG Ramachandran and J Jayalalitha, DMK was long represented by the erudite and multi-faceted personality like late K Karunanidhi. Why the state assembly polls in Tamil Nadu draws so much attention and enthusiasm from the pundits as well as keen observers has an interesting take.
PC: Ayush Verma
- Events unfolding leading up to the elections are enthralling to note. Any elections in India per se is characterized by the set processes and lots of efforts, thinking, and futuristic vision goes into preparing the manifesto by every single political party promising mostly developmental blueprint for the masses but also not hesitating in listing out some of the most astonishing populist measures to lure the electorates. Call it inducements, incentives, allurements, or simply offerings, the Tamil Nadu political parties are extremely seasoned campaigners well versed in the art of producing manifestos endowed with freebies targeting every stratum of the society, but mainly women voters.
- The two Dravidian parties have promised generous freebies like mixers, grinders, television sets, cell-phones before, and of course, largely delivering them much to the merriment of the beneficiaries. Fiscal experts wondering how the funds are spent once the party assumes office, rapid industrialization from the 1990s has allowed Tamil Nadu a considerable cushion to finance the lavish electoral promises. Carrying forward the legacy, this time around too the battle of manifestos is no different in the ensuing elections as both the parties, true to their heritage, have gone overboard leaving no stone unturned in impressing the electorate.
PC: Atanu believes
- With free consumer goods, cash transfers, nativist appeals, and outreach to specific groups like youth and women, both the parties’ manifestos encompass the entire spectrum of electoral populism. On its part, the DMK has promised to reserve 75% industrial jobs for locals, one-year maternity leave for women government employees, banning the NEET medical entrance exam, subsidized food, fuel, milk, and transport. On the other hand, the AIADMK has come out with promises of free houses, washing machines, and cable TV service, Rs. 1500 monthly for housewives, government jobs, and prohibition in stages.
- Amid hailstorm of freebies being offered, damn the fiscal prudence as TN’s outstanding liabilities have grown from Rs. 1.85 lakh crore in 2015 to Rs. 4.05 lakh crore in 2020. All states that went ahead with prohibition, ostensibly to woo women, will vouch how such a move shrinks revenues that are otherwise needed to finance the freebies on offer. Also, counterproductive moves like reserving industrial jobs for locals and banning NEET goes against the tenet of national interest as also failing to sail through judicial scrutiny. Political parties should realize that focusing on improving education infrastructure to facilitate far greater qualitative outreach to women and youth will eventually turn out to be a game-changer. Alas! Who will make political leaders realize this!