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Jaya's rice plank reflects poll fears: Oppn

By Staff
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Chennai, Apr 18 (UNI) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK Supremo J Jayalalithaa's latest poll offer of ten kg of free rice through the public distribution system (PDS) has drawn criticism from the Opposition parties who alleged the announcement reflected her fear of losing the elections.

DMK President M Karunanidhi, whose party promised rice at Rs two a kg in the election manifesto, said Ms Jayalalithaa's offer was only a tactic to divert people's attention and would never be implemented.

As a Chief Minister, she could take a policy decision only by convening the Cabinet and consulting the Council of Ministers, he told reporters here.

To a question, he said MDMK General Secretary Vaiko, who mocked at DMK's offer of cheap rice, had to eat humble pie now in the wake of Ms Jayalalithaa's announcement.

PMK Founder Leader S Ramadoss alleged, in a statement, that Ms Jayalalithaa had made a mockery of democratic norms and election procedures by making a sudden announcement at a street corner meeting, unlike the DMK which promised cheap rice in its election manifesto.

''Ms Jayalalithaa is gripped by fear of defeat and this itself is the first victory for the DMK front,'' he added.

Stating the Chief Minister's announcement at an election meeting was a blatant violation of the Model Code of Conduct, he hoped the Election Commission (EC) would not turn a blind eye to it.

If the EC did not take immediate action on the issue, people might suspect the impartiality of the poll panel, he added.

Claiming Ms Jayalalithaa had never fulfilled her promises, Dr Ramadoss pointed out to the hike in PDS rice prices after she assumed office in 2001.

''Then, she deceived people by describing the price rise as bitter pill and now sought to dupe the people by giving dope of free rice,'' he alleged.

Congress Leader and Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram said Ms Jayalalithaa was rattled by the DMK's poll promises of rice at Rs two per kg, free colour TV and free distribution of land to landless farmers.

''The very fact that the DMK's election manifesto has become a subject of debate and discussion in the state signifies a major victory of Mr Karunanidhi,'' he said.

How could Ms Jayalalithaa, who questioned the feasibility of DMK's offer of cheap rice, now make such an announcement? he asked.

Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) also assailed Ms Jayalalithaa's lastest offer, stating it only reflected her fear of losing the elections.

UNI AKN GM VD RS1645

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