Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan alleged on Monday that bribery had been systematised in Tamil Nadu. To drive home his charge, he released a “rate card” of bribes that the people “are forced to shell out for availing themselves of various government services right from the cradle to the grave”.
This list included “bribes” which he said people had to pay for basic services such as issue of birth/death and community certificates, driving licences and ration cards, land registration and household water/drainage connections. “This is the tariff in force, which everyone pays as they have no other option. Everybody knows this and can only endorse it, though one may point out slight changes [in the rates],” Mr. Haasan said at a press conference here. He was in the city on the third leg of his campaign, covering the central districts since Sunday.
Asked whether he would present the list to the Governor (as the DMK had done), Mr. Haasan said he was releasing the list for the media to get the message across. “Soon,” was his cryptic reply when asked whether he would release a list of corruption charges against the Ministers.
Affirming that the MNM had a plan to prevent such bribery through “predictive governance”, Mr. Haasan said that if his party was voted to power, people would not have to wait in queues to avail themselves of such services. “We will ensure that each household has a computer with Internet connectivity. This is not a populist measure but an investment to ensure digital connectivity between the government and the people. We consider this as a basic right of the people,” he said.
Mr. Haasan maintained that the MNM had emerged as an inevitable ‘third factor’ in the State politics. “That’s what we assume,” he remarked when asked whether he would head a third front. To a question on the chief ministerial candidate, the party’s second-line leaders, including its vice-president Mahendran, intervened to affirm that Mr. Haasan would be the chief ministerial candidate of the proposed front.
As for the possible delay in the launch of a party by actor Rajinikanth, Mr. Haasan said the health of his long-time friend was more important. When asked whether Mr. Rajinikanth would like to work with him, he shot back, “Why not? We have done so even 40 years ago. Just because we have entered politics, it does not mean we are not friends any longer.”
To another query, he maintained that one could not say that the BJP was not a communal party. On the continuing farmers’ protest in Delhi, Mr. Haasan said a country that did not accord due respect to agriculture would face its downfall, and it should not happen to India. The MNM, he said, was taking measures as per law to secure the ‘torch light’ symbol in Tamil Nadu.
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