Every election gets a talking point, sometimes its anti-incumbency, or low turnout, poor response etc. This time in Tamil Nadu, the freebies are the buzzword. People across the state can be caught whispering about what is being offered by which party if it comes to power.
The biggest seems to be the announcement of the distribution of free mobile phones to masses if she comes to power by AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa , which has caught the fancy of voter s in the state . The AIADMK manifesto announced on 5th May sounds more like a lottery scheme announcement which has something for everybody .One hundred units of free power for households every two months, 50 per cent subsidy for women to buy scooters, free laptops with Internet for students in Class 11 and Class 12, eight grams of gold for women getting married are the promises apart from the free cell phones for all ration-card holders.
Many see it as a last ditch effort by the chief minister as the opinion polls suggest a swing against the ruling AIADMK government. While the analysts debate and discuss the swing, for the voters it’s the competitive Gift assurances that are the debating points. The DMK which released its manifesto earlier also has the magic of the telecom revolution on the youth as it promised free 10 GB of 3G/4G data for the young students . It’s a different matter that every time DMK speakers talk about free 3G/4G data , the voters get reminded of the 2G controversies.
The DMK list of promises is long , but the young voters look forward to the promise of Free Laptops and waiver of education loans. The manifesto also talks of 9 months maternity leave in Government employees, apart from Organic farming, crop loans etc which make it manifestos electon after election. DMDK chief Vijayakant also is looking forward to playing Santa Claus in the state. His own unique goodie bag for the people of Tamil Nadu this time round promises over 1100 new cinema halls to be built across the state , he assures that petrol price will be fixed at Rs 45 and diesel price at Rs 35. While the sound of it delights the middle class who pay above Rs 72 per litre of petrol in Tamilnadu, economists wonder how it can be done as Petrol / Diesel pricing is an issue under the Union Government.
It’s the youth and the first time voters who have become crucial this time again for the political parties. Especially so this elections, as ove crore more people have registered to vote in Tamil Nadu since the last assembly elections. Last year the number of voters registered in the state were 4.71 crores, but this time around the number is 5.79 crores. In a multicornered election, these additional voters could be game-changers.
Better voter registration by the Election Commission this time is being seen as a key reason for the jump in voters. A reason why all parties have these young and first time voters in mind while making the freebie announcements.
If it’s Amma’s AIADMK offering Mobile phones , the 10 GB 3G/4G Data will be offered by the DMK. The voters can only pick and choose what they need more.
Shivakumar , a sales executive with a financial services company in Chennai is one among the crore new registrants and is looking forward to not just the polling day , but also the results. In middle of his work on the hot sunny after noon . Shivakumar told Policy Pulse that he will vote for Amma’s party. “ I will get a mobile phone , last time she had given Mixers and grinders which my mother is using. This time the gift will be for me”. The desire for a new phone maybe a trigger for higher voting , but will the voters give a right call ?
The lure of the freebies seems to be certainly attracting the voters, maybe the vote this time will not be for the political ideology professed all parties but driven by the consumer needs of the voters.