If his recent announcements are anything to go by, it appears that Telegu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu wants to beat Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalitha in promising freebies galore.
The AIADMK chief, better known as Amma, is known for showering freebies in her state. For instance, when her government completed its first year in power in May 2012, the administration distributed rice, laptops, mixer-grinders and even milch cows. She also introduced the Re 1-idlis in state-run canteens to woo the poor.
As the 2014 general election draws near, Naidu is taking a leaf out of Amma's book. Stunned by the huge public response for his meetings at praja garjana meetings in Telangana's Mahbubnagar and Seemandhra's Srikakulam, the TDP chief has embarked on a mission to announce populist sops for the common man in all Telugu speaking states.
He has promised a free mobile phone with GPRS connection to working women and school and college girls; the idea is that with security apps, women's security will be taken care of. Naidu has also already promised waiving off farm loans and loans arrears to NGOs. And just like Amma, he said that if the TDP is voted into power, the state will get NTR canteens, which will serve Rs 5-meals to the poor. He has also promised one job and one house each for 3.6 crore households in Telangana and Andhra. "Don't pay electricity bill or repay bank loans. They will all be waived after the TDP comes to power," said Naidu at public meetings, drawing cheers from the crowd and jibes from economists and activists alike. He has even drawn criticism from his opponents, who question Naidu on the source of funds for such a largesse.