Union Minister Smriti Irani seems to have shifted her focus from Rahul Gandhi, and Amethi at least briefly, over to the Tamil superstar and “Makkal Needhi Maiam” founder Kamal Haasan. The minister asked the actor, who has on several occasions criticised the Centre on issues of development in his campaigns, to have an open debate with the BJP’s candidate for Coimbatore South constituency from where the Haasan is contesting.

“I challenge Kamal Haasan to come for a debate with Vanathi Srinivasan, to prove to the people who is it that really knows the issues well, gives solutions and implements policies,” Irani said speaking at the ‘North India Community Outreach Programme’, organised by Gujarati Samaj in Coimbatore.

Also Read: TN polls 2021: EC transfers Coimbatore bureaucrats to non-election posts

Smriti Irani, backing her claims with statistics , said that the Centre has built 10 crore toilets nationwide, of which 90 lakhs were in Tamil Nadu. The Prime Minister initiated the Jan Dhan scheme through which the government was able to directly transfer money to people’s accounts, benefiting 40 crore people all over the country, of which over 90 lakh were in Tamil Nadu, she said adding that the state received 1.25 crore drinking water taps of the five crore installed in India in the last two years.

Switching between Gujrati and Hindi, the union minister said a central government scheme through which farmers get Rs 6,000 annually had benefited 10 crore of them, and 50 lakh of them were in Tamil Nadu, the minister said. The Centre has also sanctioned 11 medical colleges and an AIIMS for Tamil Nadu, she said.

She went on to request the people of Tamil Nadu to vote for the BJP on April 6. “Lakshmi (goddess of wealth) is coming not with a torch, but on Kamal (Lotus).”

Interestingly when reporters asked her why she chose to target Kamal Haasan and spared other parties like the Congress, she quipped “Congress is not at all in the picture.”

The election for the 16th Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu will be held on April 6. The counting of votes is on May 2.

(With inputs from PTI)