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Ask TN govt not to give gift tokens with CM’s pics: DMK urges EC

The DMK on Monday requested the Election Commission of India to instruct the Tamil Nadu government not to distribute tokens with pictures of Chief Minister K Palaniswami to people for Pongal gifts.

The state had earlier announced a Pongal gift of Rs 2,500 and a hamper containing rice, jaggery, cashew, cardamom, full sugarcane, and others for ‘rice only’ ration cardholders.

According to DMK, the tokens listing the date and time for receipt of Pongal gifts from the ration shops are distributed by AIADMK members. Pictures of Palaniswami and other ministers give an impression that the hampers were gifts from the ruling AIADMK and not the state government, the DMK added.

In a letter to the Election Commission, DMK’s Organisation Secretary RS Bharathi said: “Pongal gift cash is disbursed from government funds and not from the funds of the ruling party or from the pocket of Chief Minister or Ministers. But the manner and the pattern in which the tokens are being issued to the public show as if the Pongal gifts are being given by AIADMK, the Chief Minister and Ministers of respective areas.”

“Though the Model Code of Conduct is not enforced in Tamil Nadu ahead of the Assembly elections, it is not proper for the ruling party to issue Pongal free gift tokens with pictures of Chief Minister and names of respective Ministers as it will affect the level playing field, which is the basic concept of fair elections,” Bharathi said.

The Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu will be held in 2021.

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