As Amma turns 68 on Wednesday, party workers, admirers and followers are getting ready to make it a day India would remember for long. This year celebrations have been planned across India including the national capital.
In scale, sweep and grandeur Amma’s 68th birthday celebrations are going to be such that they would touch almost every aspect of life, in Tamil Nadu for sure. The celebrations would last for five days, in Tamil Nadu, Pudducherry, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi, and Andamans, party leaders said. In poll-bound Tamil Nadu, this would mean scaling up people-oriented welfare schemes. Further strengthening ‘Brand Amma’, under which a plethora of goods and services are distributed across the state. From Amma canteens to Amma medicines to Amma drinking water, toAmma salt to Amma cement to Amma fruits and Amma vegetables, the list goes on to include all items of daily use.
If opposition parties lament that Jayalalithaa was leaving the state in financial ruins, by mounting up a public debt crossing a whopping `2 lakh crore and an average debt per person of `28,778, the AIADMK leader dismiss it as “they don’t have any answers to the pro-poor programmes of Amma and that is why they have to criticize them some way or the other.”
Ignoring every criticism coming their way, Amma bhakts are readying to drape Chennai, or for that matter many cities and towns in Amma banners, buntings and posters with her giant cutouts blessing the people from here, there and everywhere.
Pre-birthday special pujas have already begun at many temples on her behalf, for her long life and victory in the assembly polls. Coming out of one such puja, AIADMK spokesperson CR Saraswathi said, “Party workers are very excited and want to celebrate Amma’s birthday like never before.” Her birthday itself will see countless rallies and functions to reach out to the common man. Annadanams (distribution of free food) will be the order of the day. Public meetings, where her leadership and persona would be eulogized, cultural programmes to mark the birthday celebrations are scheduled to go on till February 28. All elected party representatives will be attending these programmes.
Chennai corporation has drawn up elaborate plans. All the 282 Amma canteens would serve sweet pongal to all customers for starters and food will be served free of cost allthrough the day.
The Chennai corporation will give mosquito fish, a larva feeding fish species, in 68 mosquito breeding spots. Medical camps will be conducted in 68 parks and 68 blood donation camps too will be conducted all for the special number 68. Sixty-eight mobile medical camps, 68 special camps to test for diabetes and blood pressure and medical camps at all its urban primary health centres are also planned. Babies born on Amma’s birthday will have a fixed deposit of `10,000 in their names. Sixty-eight transgenders will be honoured and 68 women participants in a kolam competition will be awarded prizes. Sand sculpting competitions, felicitation of resident welfare associations and NGOs and other competitions will complete the day.