‘Let the debate take place and then the people can decide’

Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Thursday criticised DMK president M.K. Stalin for demanding the withdrawal of a case in the Supreme Court as a condition to participate in an open debate on the corruption charges levelled by the latter against him and a few Ministers.

Addressing an election campaign titled ‘Vetrinadai Podum Tamizhagam’ (Tamil Nadu marches on successfully) in Arachalur, he said the Opposition leader had levelled corruption charges against him and the AIADMK government, and, hence, he had invited him for an open debate. “But now, he wants the case in the top court to be withdrawn for participating in the debate,” he said, adding, “Don’t give excuses. Say that you cannot come for the debate.”

Mr. Palaniswami contended that the Supreme Court had stayed the Madras High Court order, allowing the CBI to conduct inquiries into allegations against him, as the charges were found to be untrue. “Let the debate take place and then the people can decide.”

He said during the erstwhile DMK rule, a tender was floated for ₹200 crore to construct the new Secretariat building. But the contractor was paid ₹430 crore. “It is corruption, and if we point this out, Stalin gets angry,” he said.

He criticised Mr. Stalin for questioning the Amma Mini Clinics’ scheme, when the whole nation was appreciating it. “When the country appreciates a scheme, Mr. Stalin opposes it,” he said, adding that only doctors provide treatment at the clinics. “If he has doubts, he can check with the doctors,” he said. The Chief Minister said the government was providing post-matric scholarships, of ₹1,500 crore, every year, to students, and it had also arranged bank loans worth ₹80,000 crore to 1.07 crore women members of self-help groups in the State.

He said the government had provided free rice and essentials to those whose livelihoods had been affected by the pandemic. Besides, a Pongal gift hamper, comprising ₹2,500 cash, was being given to all ration rice cardholders to enable them to celebrate the festival. “But Mr. Stalin says the government has done nothing for the people. If he does not know, let him know from his partymen,” he added

At Chithode, he said starting and upgrading of schools and launching of new colleges had helped the State improve its Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education, from 32% in 2011 to the present 49%.

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