The freebies and welfare schemes offered by the government draw the residents’ appreciation too.

For weavers in Kanchipuram voting for the AIADMK is almost a long-standing tradition
news TN 2016 Wednesday, May 04, 2016 - 21:08

As one enters Pillaiyar Palayam in Kanchipuram, the first sight that one sees is of men and women sitting outside their houses, weaving on their looms. And it seems that for most of them the preferred design motif is the ‘two leaves’ symbol of the AIADMK.

Pillaiyar Palayam forms a significant part of the Kanchipuram constituency where the AIADMK’s member V Somasundram has been the MLA for the past five years.

Voting for the AIADMK seems like a long-standing tradition here. “For generations, we have been voting for the same party,” says Singaravel, a 55-year-old weaver.

“From MGR’s time, I have been supporting AIADMK and will continue to do that,” says 56-year-old S Anbazhagan.

And the freebies and welfare schemes offered by the government draw the residents’ appreciation too. Singaravel, for instance, appreciatively lists schemes credited to the AIADMK, such as the provision of free grinders, free rations for households, the provision of gold for weddings of women from poor households, and the cradle baby scheme for abandoned infants.

Asked about what the government is doing for weavers in the state, however, they concede that while many promises of providing loans and improving the industry are made, but little comes into effect. “The AIADMK government has reduced the electricity charges by Rs 100 for weavers,” says Perumal, a 48-year-old weaver, referring to the tariff reductions the AIADMK has carried out during its tenure.

The DMK manifesto has promised that the volume of free electricity provided to handloom weavers will be increased from 100 to 200 units, while free power for powerlooms would be increased from 500 to 750 units. But, says Perumal, their loyalty to AIADMK is unaffected by the DMK’s promises. “Even though, they have promised free power we will still vote for the AIADMK.”

Prohibition is impossible in Tamil Nadu

What the voters in Pillaiyar Palayam are most sceptical about in the various party manifestos are the promises to enforce prohibition in the state.

“My maistry (foreman) cannot start working in the morning without having liquor. People who work daily through hectic shifts require alcohol,” says Anbazhagan.

The only result that the locals expect and fear from prohibition is an increase in the sales of illegal liquor. “How will the people stop drinking? The quality of illegal liquor is bad and could even lead to deaths,” says V Muniappan, another weaver.

The only way prohibition could work, says Muniappan is in a gradual, phased manner. “How can the government bring prohibition when it runs on TASMAC money?” he asks.


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