Spending on health and education cannot be called gifts: Stalin

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MP Stalin said on Saturday government spending on education and health could not be construed as gifts and said such measures were extended to the poor and those who live on the fringes.

He also took an apparent swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for opposing the handouts, but said he didn’t want to talk much about it because “it will become politics”. In fact, the Supreme Court said the gifts and the social welfare program were different, Stalin told an event at the Arumigu Kapaleeswarar Arts and Science College in his Kolathur constituency here.

“Spending on education and health cannot be free. Because education is about knowledge while medicine is about health. This government wants to put in place adequate social protection schemes in these two sectors,” he said.

Listing health and education initiatives, including those delivered to homes, Stalin said: “These are not gifts (but) social welfare programs…These are implemented for the benefit of the poor and marginalized”.

In an apparent reference to Modi, Stalin said: “Some people have now recently emerged with the advice that there should be no gifts.” “We are not bothered by that. If I talk any more, it will become politics. So I don’t want to talk about it any more,” he said.

Modi had recently said the freebies were a mouthpiece in India’s drive to become self-reliant and also a burden on taxpayers and criticized some opposition parties for engaging in freebie politics.

In addition, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had slammed Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for giving a ‘perverse spin’ to the giveaway debate, saying the AAP leader putting education and health in this category was an attempt to strike fear into the minds of the poor. On Friday, Stalin said his government’s flagship free bus travel program for women was not a gift but an “economic revolution” that had guaranteed savings to beneficiaries.

The various DMK and AIADMK schemes have implemented various free government initiatives over the years in different areas of the state, such as Color Television Program (DMK), Dairy Animals and Laptop for Students (AIADMK ).

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