I have a friend from Tamil Nadu, a chauvinistic fan of Jayalalitha. A slight to Jayalalitha or her rule is such offending to him that he will launch into an hour long tirade bordering irrationality. One primary bone of contention is the concept of election freebies. His argument is two fold – it’s our taxes which are being returned back to us; poor deserve. Our argument is that this pampering, instead of motivating people to earn, you are motivating them to stay lazy and do nothing. Well, no one can convince him over that. His argument is that those people are poor and they deserve support. And the support, surely is not refrigirators and televisions? How can one justify gifting out televisions or computers to people, that too when they are considered to be commodities of privilege? A simple calculation shows, even if one percent of Tamil Nadu’s population gets a TV costing 15,000, the net sum excluding logistics is going to be .07 crore x 15000 = 1000 crores, an outrageously huge number. Even if we consider the procurement cost as half of the TV cost, it’s going to be 500 crores. If it came from the government funds, what is CAG doing? If it came from party funds, where did that money come from? Now, looking at the numbers given in 2015-16 budget, out of the total budget of around 1 lakh crores, 5300 crores is allocated for freebies and including the freebies, 59000 crores is allocated for non-productive stuff like salaries, freebies and subsidies. Salaries(37604 crores) is fine, but a number as huge as 15-20000 crores for subsidies, is it justified from any angle?

Ruminations apart, let’s get back to our friend. I took another track. Let’s say, if a person encroaches the house next to what he is staying and if the government regularizes it. First, he didn’t hear the word encroach. He said he is fine with it because he is poor and needs support. I stressed on the word encroach then. He was clueless first and then he had no answer. I went on the offence and asked, sweating blood all my life, I pool up money to buy a house. Even after all this, I don’t have money sufficient to buy a flat in an area like T Nagar. But, whenever I go there, what do I see there? A huge block of apartments provided as quarters to the poor. Each of them will cost no less than 20-30 lakhs if there is a provision to sell them. Can you call them poor from any angle? I can’t convince him.

Another track. I pity you Tamils for not understanding the fact that a person is bribing you with freebies to lord over you. Since this is more personal, the reaction was more violent. Do you know how much she sacrificed for the people? Do you even understand the fact that she is that sick and is still serving people? My answer for this was, if she is sick, we are concerned about her; let her retire from politics and take care of her health. Then comes the question, what is her qualification to be the Chief Minister. She is a great actress. If acting on screen is a criterion for being the Chief Minister, anyone can be a Chief Minister, say, for example, Vijayakanth. A sarcastic laugh and a snide that Vijayakanth is no comparision to Jayalalitha. No answer when I asked to compare Vijayakanth with the Jayalalitha who brought down Janaki Ramachandran. Basically, a person wasted twenty years to learn how to rule properly. The next question. Who is better as a Chief Minister – Mokshagundam Visweswarayya or Jayalalitha. The obvious answer. Jayalalitha. That level of irrationality and ignorance is a bit surprising for a person of our educational stature. He doesn’t even know who Visweswarayya is. Well, what more can be said of such?

It is ironic that we will come across such sort of people in all forms of life and our current take is that better elect a line man because I have got a better chance at electricity as compared to the current chief minister. The argument in return is that it’s a conspiracy of linemen to defeat the Chief Minister. And our reply to that is, if we talk too loudly, the Chief Minister will get an idea to declare generators as freebies. And the story doesn’t just end there – Jayalalitha’s antics and my friend’s arguments.