E Palaniswami launches Tamil Nadu poll campaign from Salem

Tamil Nadu chief minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) co-coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami on Saturday launched the party’s 2021 assembly elections campaign from his home constituency of Edappadi in Salem district by highlighting his government’s achievements.

The AIADMK, having won two straight assembly elections under their late leader J Jayalalithaa, is aiming for a third term in power. This is the first time that Palaniswami will contest as the chief ministerial candidate.

The CM started his day-long campaign by praying at Sendraya Perumal temple in Periyasoragai village in Salem district and inaugurated an ‘Amma mini clinic’. He completed his speech by appealing to people to vote for the two-leaves symbol.

Addressing his supporters from an open van, which had a portrait of six-time chief minister Jayalalaithaa, he listed his government’s achievements in education, agriculture, water management, among other fields. The CM emphasised the government’s work in bringing the novel coronavirus under control in Tamil Nadu, which he said received praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He added that they realised the dream of poor students by carving out a 7.5% reservation in medical colleges for government school students who cleared National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).

Palaniswami also promised a hamper for Pongal, a multi-day harvest festival which falls in mid-January, in Tamil Nadu to 2.6 crore people holding ration cards. They will receive Rs 2,500 in cash along with raw rice, cashew, sugar, grapes, cardamom, sugarcane and a cloth bag.

Opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MP Kanimozhi symbolically launched her campaign trail from Edappadi but the chief minister said that this region has been an AIADMK bastion and will remain so.

“I didn’t expect to become chief minister, it is a God-given opportunity for me,” said Palaniswami. “After Amma’s death, the opposition was criticising that our government will fall in a month or two but we have ruled for four years amidst several challenges.”

The AIADMK announced Palaniswami as its chief ministerial candidate after days of power struggle between Palaniswami and deputy chief minister and party’s coordinator O Panneerselvam in early October. The party is in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), actor Vijayakanth’s Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and Puthiya Thamizhagam which was formed ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. AIADMK leaders have said that they will continue in this alliance.

After the DMK and Kamal Haasan’s MNM, the AIADMK is the third party to have hit the campaign trail. Haasan will start the second phase of his campaign on Sunday.

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