All the four legislators belonging to the opposition AIADMK (Amma) on Tuesday surrendered their family ration cards in the Assembly during zero hour expressing their willingness to opt out of ‘freebies.’ AIADMK (Amma) legislature wing leader A Anbalagan announced that his party legislators did not want to enjoy any of the freebies the government was offering as it should be restricted to the needy and poorer sections. He said government should also ensure that the benefits of welfare schemes including the 20 kg free rice scheme operated every month and it should be restricted to the poorer sections.
Anbalagan, Vayyapuri Manikandan, A Baskar and K A U Asana surrendered the cards to the Speaker. Welcoming their gesture, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy said the purpose of the freebies was to enable the poorer sections enjoy the benefits of welfare schemes.
He said he had already appealed to the affluent sections, industrialists, officials, elected representatives and those paying income tax to voluntarily opt out of the freebies so that the money saved thereby would be used for various programmes.
Welfare Minister M Kandasamy said government was hard-pressed for funds to operate various welfare schemes. Hence freebies should be available only for the needy and the money saved would be of help to strengthen the coffers, he said. Kandasamy said ruling Congress legislators too had decided to opt out of the freebies.
Kandasamy later told PTI that ten out of the 15 Congress legislators surrendered their cards after the day`s session was over. Among those who surrendered the cards included the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and also Ministers, he said.