Announcing the rollout of one of its key poll-time assurances made in 2021, the ruling DMK on Monday said the scheme providing Rs 1000 per month assistance for eligible women heads of families will be launched in September this year. Coinciding with Dravidian stalwart and party founder, the late CN Annadurai’s birth anniversary on September 15, the launch of the ‘game-changer’ initiative would come months ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, where the DMK has set its eyes on its led alliance sweeping all the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu and the lone Puducherry segment.
State Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan on Monday presented Budget 2023-24 in the Assembly and announced that the monthly assistance scheme would be launched by Chief Minister M K Stalin. Making the announcement in his Budget address, he said said the modalities were being worked out for the scheme’s implementation and Rs 7,000 crore has been set apart in the budget for the plan. It shall be a ”game changer in the socio-economic life of women of the State,” he said. Dravidian icon and DMK founder CN Annadurai’s (1909-1969) birth anniversary falls on September 15. He was the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu between 1967 and 1969, leading the first non-Congress government in the state in post-independent India. The Rs 1,000 assistance for women family heads is one of the electoral assurances made by the DMK ahead of the 2021 Assembly election and it eventually became a very popular promise. Often targeted by the main opposition AIADMK for ‘not implementing,’ it, the DMK regime had to reiterate many times that the scheme would soon see the light of the day. DMK President and CM Stalin, during his campaign for the recently held Erode (East) bypoll, had assured of an announcement on the date of launch of the assistance scheme. It would be made known in the Budget presentation, he had then said. In Tamil, the assistance is officially known as ”Magalir Urimai Thogai,” which means ”Women’s Right to Assistance.” Women heads of eligible households would get the financial assistance.
Tabling the Budget, Rajan said that owing to the unprecedented and difficult reforms undertaken, ”we have reduced the annual revenue deficit of around Rs 62,000 crore which we inherited on assuming office (May 2021), to around Rs 30,000 crore in the Revised Estimates of the current year.” This is notwithstanding the several ”massive welfare schemes” that are being implemented during the last two years, he said. Fare free travel for women in State-run buses and breakfast scheme for government school students are among the several schemes being implemented. Even as Rajan began his address, the principal opposition AIADMK attempted to raise issues which led to a din for a while. The party MLAs later staged a walkout.
Despite accomplishments, the minister said ”we are bracing for challenging times ahead,” in view of unprecedented inflation, the continuing war in Ukraine and volatility in the global economy and financial markets. ”We have outperformed by growing faster than the national average in the previous year and by significantly lowering the Revenue Deficit and Fiscal Deficit when compared to that of the Union government,” he said adding it was a testimony to Stalin’s leadership.
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The Finance Minister announced setting up of a ”state of the art global sports city” in Chennai and Rs 25 crore for ”factory skill schools” and Metro rail projects for Coimbatore and Madurai. Rajan also announced renovation of the Jawaharlal Nehru Outdoor Stadium here at an estimated cost of Rs 25 Crore. Udhayanidhi, son of CM Stalin is the Minister for Youth Welfare and Sports Development.
Rajan said the free breakfast scheme for primary students has led to increase in attendance, between 10-30 per cent in schools. In the upcoming financial year, the government would construct classrooms, laboratories and toilets at a cost of Rs 1,500 crore, he said. The Budget also reflected the DMK regime’s social justice, Tamil development and cultural ideological focus, as seen in several announcements. It includes a memorial here for Tamil martyrs Thalamuthu and Natarajan, who sacrificed their lives to protect Tamil in the struggle against ”Hindi imposition,” a grant of Rs 5 crore for propagation of ideals of Dr BR Ambedkar by translating his works into Tamil, holding an international conference on Tamil computing and promotion of sea cruises that connect places of significance in Tamil culture. The government would extend the free bus pass scheme to to 591 more elderly Tamil scholars. ”Tamil art, music, architecture, sculpture, crafts and dance reached their pinnacle during the Chola period and their glory spread far and wide. To highlight the contribution of the Cholas who ruled the world, and to preserve artefacts and relics of that age, a grand Chola museum will be set up in Thanjavur,” he announced.