Minister denies saying welfare schemes only for AIADMK card holders

No legal provision to restrict government schemes to supporters of a particular political party, Raju says

Madurai/Chennai: Tamil Nadu minister Sellur K. Raju on Monday denied having said that only AIADMK card holders would be given government welfare measures, and claimed that “falsehoods” were being spread about the issue.

“A falsehood is being spread that I had said government items [schemes] will be available only for those holding AIADMK membership card. This is a false message,” he told reporters at Madurai.

Raju said there was no legal provision to restrict government schemes to supporters of a particular political party and added that he only sought to ensure new entrants to AIADMK had secured their party membership cards.

Referring to the ruling AIADMK’s universal free rice distribution scheme, he said, “We don’t see [if beneficiaries of the rice scheme] are AIADMK families [i.e. supporters].”

About his reported controversial statement, the state cooperatives minister claimed, “never said so.”

On Sunday, media reports had quoted him as saying at an event in Madurai, “AIADMK party card is what identifies us and is equal to our life itself. every party member should have it. All party members should have the card. Only if you have it, can you get government welfare schemes benefits either for you or your family.”

Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam had made it clear yesterday that all government welfare measures were aimed at benefiting the ordinary and poor people and all sections of society, irrespective of party affiliations.

Meanwhile, senior AIADMK leader and Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar sought to make light of the controversy, saying that government schemes were not given to beneficiaries based on their party affiliation.

On Monday, he told reporters in Chennai, “hundreds of thousands of free laptops” are given to students every year as part of a government scheme.

“Can they [beneficiaries] be identified as who is from AIADMK or DMK or Left or VCK. it is not practical,” Jayakumar said.

Government schemes are given to people irrespective of their political affiliation. Raju must have made such comments to enthuse the new entrants to the party, he said.

Raju had last year courted a controversy when he launched a scheme to cover the Vaigai dam with thermocol sheets to prevent vaporisation of the water stored there, drawing ridicule from political parties and civil society.

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