Amid the 'Pongal gift' distribution in Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court on Friday, ruled that no political banners and cutouts must be displayed outside ration shops without valid permission during the distribution. This development comes after DMK wrote to Election Commission (EC) seeking to stop the AIADMK govt from issuing 'Pongal Free Gift Tokens' with CM E Palaniswami (EPS)'s photo. Currently, ration shops across Tamil Nadu have beun distributing Pongal gift hampers - which contain a cloth bag, contains one kilo each of rice and sugar, 20 grams each of cashew nuts and raisins, five grams of cardamom and a full piece of sugarcane.
On December 19, CM EPS announced that all 2.06 crore ration-card holders in Tamil Nadu will receive a 'Pongal gift hamper', starting from January 4. The government had allotted Rs 5,604.84 crore for the scheme. A dhoti and a saree were also given free of cost to beneficiaries under a welfare scheme, for which the government has made an allocation of Rs 484.25 crore.
Stating that it will affect a ‘level playing field’, DMK stated that EC must issue appropriate instructions to the Tamil Nadu government to stop issuing tokens for distribution of ‘Free Pongal Gift’ with EPS' and his ministers' photo to ensure it was the 'Gift of Tamil Nadu govt and not AIADMK party'. Incidentally, DMK points out in its letter to the EC, that its chief - M K Stalin had demanded the CM to pay Rs.5,000/- to each family much earlier, in the wake of the cyclone which hit the southern state. Claiming that the CM has shown his 'real intention by keeping mum till date and announcing a Pongal Hamper, DMK alleges AIADMK of playing politics ahead of the polls.
Apart from this, the Tamil Nadu government has also invited the ire of the Centre, announcing that it would allow 100% seating capacity at the cinemas and theatres, considering the decline of COVID-19 cases in the state. This development comes after actors Vijay & Silambarasan (Simbu) met Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, requesting that their movies 'Master' & 'Eeswaran' scheduled to release for Pongal get 100% seating capacity at theatres. This move by the government has alarmed several health experts and the MHA which has written to the Tamil Nadu govt reminding the 50% seating capacity limit. With the Madras High Court asking the theatres in Tamil Nadu to operate at 50% capacity, overriding the previously issued government order, several political experts see this as a poll ploy as EPS is set for re-election in April-May 2021.