Actor-politician Kamal Haasan's Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) today released its manifesto for the upcoming state Assembly polls, promising to turn Tamil Nadu into a $ 1 trillion economy over the next ten years and with a generous outlook for the educational sector. The state GDP currently amounts to around $300 billion. The less than-three-year-old party is looking to make a mark in the state's largely bipolar politics, though the actor himself is contesting from Coimbatore South, facing the Congress and the BJP as key rivals and not the state's main parties, the DMK and the AIADMK, directly.
The manifesto promises to turn Tamil Nadu into a trillion-dollar economy, growing 15-20% annually. It also offers to increase the state's per capita income to Rs 7-10 lakh per annum from the current Rs 2.76-odd lakhs. Indeed it plans to do away with poverty altogether - over 10 per cent of the state's population lies below the poverty line now.
The manifesto proposes an outlay of 6% of the state GDP towards education, around the same as the current figure. It seeks to do away with the "irrelevant workload on teachers" and introduce "respectful uniforms" for them, like in the case of doctors and lawyers.
Government school students will be provided with bus transport, while interest on educational loans will be waived for the first three years. If one fails to obtain a job after education, the entire loan would be written off, the MNM manifesto says.
It promises to bring "education" fully into the state list of subjects, instead of the concurrent list that it is in right now. The contentious National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), the MNM promises, will be replaced with the State Eligibility cum Entrance Test (SEET) based on local syllabus for admissions in Tamil Nadu.
The manifesto promises monorail systems in all its cities - Tamil Nadu is India's second-most urbanised state.
On the social front, it promises fair-price canteens for essential supplies.
The actor released the manifesto today from his chosen constituency even as the I-T department carried out raids against his party's treasurer, on which he said he "will respond after getting details". "I-T raids against our treasurer is not against MNM," he said.
Tamil Nadu goes to polls on April 6, with the results being announced on May 2. MNM, a fledgling party, scored around 4 per cent votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, with some urban centres returning up to 10 per cent vote share for the party.