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Freebies line Jaya pitch for Delhi

Chennai, Feb. 25: Jayalalithaa today promised on an all-India scale freebies she has showered in Tamil Nadu if her party joins the next Union government, offering another glimpse of her national ambitions as she released the AIADMK manifesto.

The manifesto is packed with promises on issues hitherto regarded as the domain of national parties. This was seen as a move to pitch the chief minister at the forefront of the non-Congress, non-BJP contenders in the prime ministerial race.

According to the manifesto, the freebies have greatly benefited the downtrodden, especially women, in the state and the AIADMK will “ensure the implementation of the laudable schemes at the national level”. It does not explain how or where the money will come from.

The schemes include free mixers, grinders and fans, milch cows and goats, marriage assistance of up to Rs 50,000 for young women plus a 4gm gold coin for the mangalsutra.

On other issues, the manifesto says that the income tax exemption limit will be raised to Rs 5 lakh from Rs 2 lakh if an AIADMK-partnered government comes to power in Delhi. Oil firms will not be free to revise petrol and diesel prices as they do now, and more subsidised LPG cylinders will reach homes, the document says.

Another promise is to bring back to India the crores of black money “lying in foreign countries”. Passing the women’s reservation bill will get high priority, as will inter-linking of rivers.

On some other economic issues, Jayalalithaa took a direction diametrically opposite of the Congress-led UPA government’s, ruling out divestment in PSUs and FDI in retail. She promised reviews of double-taxation avoidance agreements with other nations and fair pricing of natural resources.

The manifesto describes the food security bill — the UPA scheme pushed by Sonia Gandhi and hailed by the Centre as a landmark social welfare law — as “half-baked” and said it should be replaced with universal ration under the public distribution system.

Jayalalithaa’s manifesto has also dwelt at length on federalism, a theme likely to resonate well with Mamata Banerjee who has often accused the UPA of intruding into states’ turf and tried to form a federal front.

Jayalalithaa has proposed “co-operative” federalism. “Central and state governments should equally share among themselves sovereign power, should not restrict each other and must act independently within their own sphere of jurisdiction. They must find solutions by tackling common problems in a co-operative manner. The AIADMK will take action to establish, enforce and sustain this principle,” the manifesto states.

On foreign policy, the AIADMK will demand a referendum of Lankan Tamils across the world on the creation of a separate eelam (homeland) in Sri Lanka — a line taken by the DMK since 2011 when it was voted out in the state.