With no funds to spare, populist EPS moves mean little to TN residents
A long list of freebies and waivers during the voting period defines the voting tactics of the Dravidian parties. However, such a competitive policy could fail if incomes decline or if stakeholders seek more tangible social protection regimes.
As Tamil Nadu’s assembly polls draw closer, promises made by the ruling AIADMK government and the DMK opposition have prompted voters to seek a party that can offer them more tangible social measures rather than just a simple one. populist tariff.
Both Dravidian parties have focused on populism on a scale unprecedented in electoral history – you name it, and they delivered it – televisions, mixers and grinders, laptops for students, rice for a rupee and even goats. Such measures have indeed helped ordinary and poor people to create private assets.
However, recent promises made by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami focus mainly on collective benefits. The announcements range from going out of business, loan waivers and new plans. The cases include those brought against government employees, pro-Jallikkattu protesters, nuclear power plant anti-Kudankulam protesters, anti-CAA protesters and violators during the COVID-induced lockdown.
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Loan waivers include those on cooperative loans worth 12,000 crore, waiving jewelry loans by farmers up to six rulers, and waiving loans by women’s self-help groups.
The new announcements include the provision of free 24-hour electricity to farmers, the inauguration of new river link projects and the raising of the retirement age for government employees from 59 to 60.
In addition, announcements such as promoting students in grades 9, 10 and 11 without passing exams and a 10.5% reservation at Vanniyars were made at the last minute.
Significantly, the Leader of the Opposition, MP Stalin, had promised some of these announcements. So when EPS announced their implementation, it was seen as a diversion of the momentum of the DMK.
“It’s a step to collect the votes of a particular section. For example, by removing files, EPS tries to seduce government employees. EPS has chosen to satisfy a group of workers, ”explains Senthil Arumugam, general secretary of Satta Panchayat Iyakkam.
“A surprising thing; loan exemptions were not announced by former CM Karunanidhi (in 2006) and Jayalalithaa (in 2016) until they came to power. The EPS apparently does all of this at the behest of electoral strategists, ”says Arumugam.
It is argued that agricultural loan waivers will play a larger role in attracting farmers in the Delta Districts, a traditionally DMK stronghold. Although the government allocated 11,982 crore yen to agriculture in the interim budget, half went to the farm loan exemption.
“Such a waiver should benefit 16 lakh farmers. At the same time, cooperative societies will only receive 5,000 crore. It will cripple them. The cooperative company business can only function if the government pays the full amount to the companies, ”said P Shanmugam, president of the Tamil Nadu Farmers’ Association.
He pointed out that the waiver of the crop loan requires a CB-CID investigation. “It is interesting to note that a large portion of the crop loan was canceled in Salem, the home district of EPS. In that district alone, a loan of about 1,300 crore was canceled. But at Kumbakonam Central Cooperative Bank, which serves four delta districts such as Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagappattinam and Mayiladuthurai, the collective waiver is worth around ₹ 600 crore. These are areas totally dependent on agriculture, ”Shanmugam said.
Likewise, a farmer is eligible for a short term loan of up to ₹ 1 lakh. In the case of jewelry loans, the cap is ₹ 1.60 lakh. But in Thoothukkudi district, an AIADMK farmer got a loan worth ₹ 31 lakh canceled. Such cases give the impression of corruption, ”he added.
“These announcements are only made for political purposes. AIADMK will not take any responsibility and all these promises will become empty announcements, ”said economist J Jeyaranjan.
“There is no more budgetary space in the budget. AIADMK realized that it had no place in the political game. The unrealistic announcements reflect this, ”he added.
Jeyaranjan said earlier that the Dravidian parties have a well-thought-out plan to implement populist projects. “But this government made free announcements. They have borrowed around 1 lakh crore in the past year. Most of this money is cheated in the face of empty ads, ”Jeyaranjan explains.
“Even in this time of pandemic, the allocation for the health department has just doubled. The allocation to the roads department has increased tenfold, ”he said. Reducing spending in the social sector will cost them more, he added.
“The current government thinks it can withdraw a particular regime at any time and replace it with another,” Jeyaranjan said.