The DMK government is receiving criticism for the poor and shoddy distribution of Pongal gift hamper besides missing items, inferior quality and lesser quantity than assured and delayed delivery at some places.
DMK’s zero tolerance for criticism came to the fore once again with the arrest of a common man who complained of a dead lizard found in the tamarind in the Pongal gift hamper and the suspension of a Police officer for tagging pro-Modi comments on social media. The DMK and its police machinery are working overtime to book social media activists and political leaders who criticize the functioning of the state government. YouTubers Kishore K Swamy, Maridhas, Seethayin Mainthan @ Dakshinamurthy and Sattai Durai Murugan of Naam Tamizhar Katchi are just a few to mention.
The new DMK government started distributing a Pongal gift hamper containing 20 items that included jaggery, raw rice, cashew, cardamom, and raisins (dry grapes) to make sweet Pongal on Pongal Day and other basic groceries to ration cardholders through the public distribution system. There were complaints of poor and shoddy distribution besides missing items, inferior quality and lesser quantity than assured and delayed delivery at some places.
BJP and AIADMK leaders slammed the DMK government for procuring products from other states and alleged the gift hamper scheme was a failure. Former CM Edapaddi K. Palaniswamy alleged items in the hamper were overpriced and were bought from north India despite being made in Tamil. He said 30 crores corruption had taken place in the procurement of sugar cane alone. He showed media people the poor quality of jaggery in a semi-solid condition, which he claimed was inedible for human consumption. There are videos in circulation showing syringe and an old cloth in jaggery and silk cotton seeds instead of pepper and sawdust as Sambar Chilly power and substandard turmeric power. There were also complaints that worms were found in rice, suji (Rava) and wheat flour. Despite CM M. K. Stalin and the food minister’s assurance, things stood as they were.
In a horrible turn of events proving zero tolerance for criticism and fascism, the police filed a case on 7th January on M Nandhan, 64, a district functionary of the AIADMK, for sharing clips that allegedly showed a dead lizard in a tamarind pack supplied in a ration shop as part of Pongal gift hamper. Thiruttani police inspector Ramesh booked Nandan under various sections, which are nonbailable offences for “allegedly spreading fake news”. His son Kuppuswamy, who runs a private company in Chennai, immolated himself with petrol. He was admitted to a hospital with 80 per cent burns and succumbed to the injuries.
In another incident, assistant police inspector Sekhar had shared a comment on social media in support of Prime Minister Modi. He wrote, “CM Stalin said the state government would give Rs.5,000 as Pongal gift. But instead of giving it to the people, he is asking the PM for Rs. 15 lakhs that was not even promised." After seeing the comment, the DMK government immediately suspended ASI Sekhar. But it did not show the same speed in arresting leaders from DMK, DK, VCK, left and Muslim, Christian outfits that are routinely making disparaging comments on PM Modi, his private life, Home Minister Amit Shah besides life-threatening and hate speeches.
TN BJP spokesperson SG Surya, Indu Makkal Katchi founder Arjun Sampath and BJP leaders slammed the DMK government as a fascist and oppressive regime where freedom of speech and expression is at stake.