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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2862

Tamil Nadu: CM Jayalalithaa swings into action from Chennai fort immediately after assuming power!

By Dr Abdul Ruff

Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa, 68, on May 23 (exactly a year since being sworn in after her stint in jail in Bengaluru in connection with disproportionate asset case), was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu by Governor K Rosaiah at the Madras University Centenary Auditorium. Twenty eight ministers, including her trusted lieutenant and finance minister O Panneerselvam, also took the oath with her.

This is Jayalalithaa's second consecutive and sixth term as the chief minister of the state. There were celebrations across the state as she was taking oath of office and secrecy. Elaborate LCD TV arrangements were made in every district headquarters to enable the people watch the swearing in function. The ceremony was very brief, taking about 24 minutes.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, among other national leaders, offered CM Jaya his congratulations. PM Modi is on a tour in Iran. Union Ministers Venkaiah Naidu, Pon Radhakrishnan, Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker and senior AIADMK leader M Thambidurai, and Jayalalithaa's aide Sasikala were seated in the front row.

Also present were DMK treasurer MK Stalin, former DMK Ministers EV Velu, Ponmudy, party MLAs Sekhar Babu, Vagai Chandrasekhar and Ku Ka Selvam. For decades, both AIADMK and DMK leaders had kept away from the oath-taking ceremonies of each other. Presence of MK Stalin at the ceremony is seen as a possible new era in the rivalry between the Dravidian parties DMK-AIADMK.

Immediately after being sworn in, Jayalalithaa drove to Fort St George where the Secretariat is located and signed five files to fulfill five of her electoral promises, as mentioned in her party manifesto. Along with the ministers of her new cabinet, CM Jayalalithaa rushed to the Madras Fort straight away from the Madras University and started her work all over again as new CM. Ministers also went to their respective offices at Madras Fort and began the collective work to fulfill the poll promises.

Upon assuming office of CM at the Madras fort immediately after her swearing in ceremony at Madras university campus, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa ordered a slew of measures aimed at fulfilling her electoral promises including waiving crop loans of farmers up to March 31, 2016 payable to co-operative banks and free units of electricity to consumers.

The waiver includes crop loan, medium and long term loans of small and micro farmers payable to co-operative banks and the move would entail a financial burden of Rs 5,780 crore on her government. Jayalalithaa’s second order was 100 units of free power for domestic electricity consumers with effect from today in tune with the present tariff computation. It would entail an additional payout of Rs 1,607 crore as grant to the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) by the state government.

Minutes after she was sworn in, CM Jaya also signed orders of closure of 500 State-run Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) liquor outlets and reducing the working hours of retail outlets by two hours from 10 am to 12 pm, besides closure of 500 of its shops.

With effect from tomorrow, the retail outlets and bars would function from noon to 10 pm which currently remain open between 10 am to 10 pm. All measures are in tune with her electoral promises and she had said she would show her gratitude to the people through her work.

Another order was for increasing gold allocation from 4 to 8 grams for women beneficiaries under the Thallikku Thangam Scheme (Gold for 'Mangalsutra').From now on beneficiaries will get eight grams of gold in addition to monetary assistance of Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000.The Chief Minister increased free power to handloom weavers to 200 units and for power looms to 750 units.

The new TN assembly will meet on 25th May.

True to her poll campaign slogan that she lives for Tamil people, CM Jayalalithaa has begun her office work by signing 5 orders fulfilling some of her poll pledges. Now that the opposition DMK has a big contingent, Jaya would think she has to be alert in order not to give any chance for the DMK party to outsmart the AIADMK government.

So, finally Jayalalithaa also has done what her mentor and AIADMK founder MG Ramachandran (MGR) had done to Karunanidhi - keep him out of power back-to-back for a decade. MGR had banished him from the chief minister’s office early in his career, and now Jaya has repeated it in his old age.

Jayalalithaa cannot take Karunanidhi for granted as the DMK is also now strong and he would use all failures in implementing the poll promises to his party’s advantage. Against all predictions by the party leadership, he has missed the chance at least for another 5 long years.

As politics can provide unexpected twists and uncertainties, DMK might hope to find chance of snatching power from AIADMK. One could see Stalin who was watching the swearing in of Jayalalithaa and cabinet at Madras University, was not happy at all, maybe he was thinking of bad fortunes that denied his party the ‘rightful” opportunity to assume power as per the state ‘logic’ of alternative rule.

Power is the nourishment that political parties grow on. It is difficult to sustain a party and keeping it battle-ready, however cadre-based it’s, for ten years without access to power or possible resources that come as veritable entitlements of being in government.

Whether it’s a landslide for Jaya like last time or a decent victory like the one this time, chunk of the votes are vertically split between AIADMK and the DMK. This bipolarity leaves no scope for a third player, however hard one tries. The 2016 election clearly demonstrated the futility of attempting to expand this space.

Besides the AIADMK and DMK fronts, there were three more players in the fray this time—the DMDK (and its front called the PWF), the PMK and the BJP—all with single digit vote-shares. All of them had some successes in the past when they had aligned with either the AIADMK or the DMK, but the moment they leave the Dravidian fold, they become practically nothing.

Trying to make this bipolar state into a tri-polar state is futile unless one of the Dravidian parties meet with some serious leadership/existential crisis or there is an extraordinary idea like that of the AAP that captures the imagination of people. In fact, under the present circumstances, this bipolarity is not a bad idea because it protects the state from the threat of communal politics.

CM Jayalalithaa has expanded her cabinet by inducting 4 more ministers making strength to 32 and allotting them the portfolios.

Electoral arithmetic is not simple addition and subtraction, but an optimization of circumstances, possibilities and resources. Jayalalithaa played her cards well and outsmarted all her opponents in one strike to become a formidable force in Tamil politics maybe for years to come, unless something unexpected happens. AIADMK has a comfortable majority and has no visible threats today.

Tamil Nadu faces serious problems in the field of education and its quality, poverty, rural infrastructural weakness and illiteracy, urban poverty, employment of the youth and economic uplift of rural population.

Now that the AIADMK has won the poll comfortably, the government should be pragmatic and launch programs to uplift the poor people on a permanent basis. The government could use the money being spent on freebies on literacy and employment of rural and urban people.

Hopefully, Tamil state will emerge as a strong regional state with sound economy and very high literacy, cultural and employment rates.

TN government needs to continue its fight for enough water from both Karnataka and Kerala through which major rivers pass through before they reach the Tamil Nadu. Without realizing the need to release water to Tamil Nadu both Kerala and Karnataka are blocking the natural water flow into the delta regions to support the legitimate irrigation purposes of the Tamil Nadu.

CM Jayalalithaa should stop the ever rising prices of essential commodities in the state by acting against all kinds of hoarding and black marketing and artificial price rises. That is indeed the real freebies for the poor and common people.

Let Tamil Nadu be the first ever corruption-free state of India!

The Jayalalithaa government would push the Indian government to pres the Sirisena government in Sri Lanka to undertake speedy measures to genuinely implement the positive rapprochement with Tamils and other minorities and punish the war criminals that killed thousands of Tamil community with a view to affecting a holocaust.

Tamil Nadu requires an assurance from Lankan government that it would always protect the Tamil community as an integral part of the island nation.

The new Tamil Nadu government has, thus, important issues at hand to solve!

- Asian Tribune -

Tamil Nadu: CM Jayalalithaa swings into action from Chennai fort immediately after assuming power!
Tamil Nadu: CM Jayalalithaa swings into action from Chennai fort immediately after assuming power!
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