Annamalai clarifies on comment

A day after insinuating that the State government was seeking to disburse “stolen money” to the people, at the time of the Assembly election, BJP State vice-president K. Annamalai clarified on Monday that he was not referring to the proposed ₹2,500 Pongal cash gift.

On Sunday, speaking in Karumathampatti, near Coimbatore, at a meeting organised by the BJP in support of the three farm laws, he had said: “Giving money stolen from the Tamil Nadu people, back to them, as ₹2,000 during election time, is what the Tamil Nadu government [is doing].” Mr. Annamalai also appealed to the voters to “not mortgage their five years” after accepting money. He did not specify whether he was referring to the Pongal cash gift in his speech.

As the clips of this portion of his speech went viral on social media platforms, Mr. Annamalai took to Twitter on Monday to clarify that he was referring only to the “cash-for-votes” practice. “We welcome the Chief Minister increasing the cash gift for Pongal from ₹1,000 to ₹2,500. In these times of [COVID-19], this money given by the State government will be helpful for the people,” he tweeted.

Asserting that the BJP would never indulge in ‘cash-for-votes’ politics, Mr. Annamalai said a section of the media was attempting to conflate his remarks with the announcement of Pongal cash gift.

AIADMK spokesperson Kovai K. Selvaraj told The Hindu that State-level BJP leaders like Mr. Annamalai must speak with responsibility. “It is not fair to comment about the parties in alliance like Opposition parties,” he added.

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