A Complete Appraisal
Tamil Nadu all set to go to the polls in 2016 to elect its Chief Minister. For decades now, the main rivals have always been the DMK, under the leadership of the nonagenarian M. Karunanidhi, and the AIADMK, led by Jayalalithaa, the incumbent Chief Minister. The DMK earned nationwide notoriety as the Dravidian party that wiped out Congress party’s prospects in the 2014 parliamentary elections with the 2G scam. But, how does the AIADMK fare when it comes to corruption and abuse of power? Read on…
It was the year 2011.
The dates for the state legislative elections in Tamil Nadu had been announced. Excitement was in the air. DMDK and the Left parties had united under the leadership of AIADMK to form a mega coalition. Talks over constituency allocation ran into rough weather. It was a question of who would blink first.
Suddenly, out of the blue, Jayalalithaa released the list of AIADMK candidates for the polls. The coalition parties were stunned. With no options left, the remaining parties met to discuss this abrupt development. To save their faces, they announced that the list was released without Jayalalithaa’s knowledge. More than four years have passed and they haven’t yet found out the braveheart who had dared to publish the list without her consent.
There was one other major “act of disobedience” that the AIADMK members had dared to indulged in. this was during the presidential elections. If elected, it would have brought Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam back as the President of India for the second time. The AIADMK had voted unanimously against him.
“My party MLAs and MPs had voted for the presidential elections without my knowledge!” she exclaimed, when asked why Kalam was not supported.
In one of the long drawn-out cases of corruption that were being pursued against her, she declared, “The signature on the document is not mine at all,” leaving the court stunned.
“No more relationship with Sashikala,” she would declare, whenever public opinion against her close aide and her cohort gets too loud to ignore. But, within few months, the entire gang from Mannarkudi would be back at Jayalalithaa’s residence in Poes Garden. The ministers would get kicked around like the proverbial football; and portfolios would get reallocated for no apparent reason at all. She would sit in the comforts of her house in Poes Garden and remote-control the government. She would go on a vacation to Kodanadu near Coimbatore, and make the ministers and senior officials run around like headless chicken; and she would keep her party members in constant fear of losing their positions and ministries – this is Jayalalithaa. She is Jayalalithaa!
The lady has her strengths. When the opposition was screaming, “How can an actress ever rule a state?” she showed that she was very much capable of it. Actress, propaganda in-charge, Member of the Parliament, leader of the opposition in the Tamil Nadu state assembly, party general secretary, Chief Minister … Jayalalithaa’s journey is a long one. After the demise of the charismatic MGR, who also was the founder of the AIADMK, if the party has managed to survive and continues to thrive, it is solely due to Jayalalithaa.
1991, 2001, 2002, 2011, 2015 – this is the fifth time that Jayalalithaa finds herself in the Chief Minister’s chair. For a while, due to the disproportionate wealth amassment case, O. Paneerselvam was made the Chief Minister of the state for eight months. During this period, Jayalalithaa was crowned the ‘Makkal Muthalvar’ (People’s Chief Minister).
So, what did Jayalalithaa accomplish in these four years? Was she a success or a failure as the minister in-charge of the police department, and as the chief executive of the state this time?
Rule 110; 181 announcements
According to Rule 110 of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, a minister can present a document/ issue a statement on issues of public importance, with the consent of the Speaker. There cannot be any discussion on the announcement issued under Rule 110. This rule is meant for some serious and urgent issues that need immediate announcement. But, announcements regarding new schemes which are neither urgent nor relevant to the masses are being made under Rule 110. Jayalalithaa has made 181 such announcements under Rule 110 in the past four years. The hitherto unknown Rule 110 has now become a much-debated issue in Tamil Nadu, even among the illiterates of the state!
Question is – have any of these 181 announcements been implemented?
In the year 2011, she had announced the launch of a 311-acre satellite township at Thirumazhisai, at a cost of Rs.2160 crores. No concrete steps have been taken about it as yet. The authorities have only now started drawing the blueprint of the satellite city. During the DMK regime, M. Karunanidhi announced the launch of a satellite township near Kelambakkam. Jayalalithaa responded with an angry retort. “Chennai wouldn’t need a satellite township if all of Karunanidhi’s sons and daughters, his grandchildren, the relatives of his deceased wife and their family members, and the relatives of his current wife and life partner vacate from Gopalapuram and CIT Nagar, and reduce congestion,” she said. She herself then announced the launch of a satellite township at Thirumazhisai. This plan is still under deep slumber.
Another announcement under Rule 110 was the construction of a 586-acre satellite township next to Madurai airport, with all the facilities. Even the blueprint is not yet ready. She announced that an exclusive bus depot will be constructed near Vandalur for the south-bound moffusil buses. Only now have they started looking for options to procure land for the proposed plan.
The Monorail that never ran!
When Karunanidhi launched the Metro Rail scheme, Jayalalithaa released pages and pages of announcements belittling the scheme and glorifying the monorail plan. But, as soon as she came to power, she basked in the adulations that poured in for completing the metro rail scheme. In 2011, she announced the monorail plan on three ambitious and busy routes – from Vandalur to Velachery via east Tambaram, from Poonamallee to Kathipara via Porur, and from Poonamallee to Vadapalani via Valasarawakkam. She also added that there are similar plans for cities like Madurai, Coimbatore and Trichy. But, nothing materialised.
Out of the 35 announcements that were made about the highways, only six have been completed. In 2012, she announced that a marine exhibition, with its own submarine, will be constructed at Mahabalipuram, at a cost of Rs.10 crores. Nothing has been done about this either. Normally, the feasibility report is first prepared to find out if a project is possible at a given place within the specified time and budget. Only then are the announcements made. But, in these cases, the announcements are first made and then they are all forgotten. But, this has not stopped the government from compiling all the announcements made under Rule 110 and publishing it as a book titled, ‘Vidhiyai Maatriya Vidhi’ (The rule that changed the rule).
Electricity ( powercut) Boards?
Frequent and prolonged power cut was one of the reasons why the DMK received such a heavy drubbing at the state elections in 2011. After winning the elections that year, at an industrial forum meeting held in September, Jayalalithaa said, “In the next five years, power generation in Tamil Nadu will rise to 23,140 megawatt – 15,140 megawatt of thermal power, 5000 megawatt windmill based electricity, and 3000 megawatt solar power. Changing Tamil Nadu into a power surplus State is my goal.” Nothing has happened.
Rs.30,529 crores was the money spent to procure electricity from the open market in 2013-14. Members of the opposition claim that had it been invested in generating power, Tamil Nadu would have produced 8000 megawatt electricity. Instead, the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board is reeling under debts of about Rs.1 lakh crore.
The opposition has been crying hoarse that buying electricity from the private parties will only lead to corruption. But the government has turned a deaf ear to them. “After coming to power, AIADMK has not come up with any new electricity generation projects. Even the ongoing projects have been delayed,” is the new charge that is being levelled against the party. Delay in calling for tenders, delay in opening the tenders, in selecting and allocating them, and deciding on them…there is delay everywhere.
The failures & undue delays on implementation of Udangudi power project is a well-known secret. The project was announced in 2007. Had everything been done systematically, power generation would have started in 2012. But, eight years later, the project made a full circle and has returned to where it had begun. Rs.80 crores of the taxpayers’ money was wasted on this futile exercise is the only achievement.
181 – The number of announcements made under Rule 110.
179 – Total number of letters written to the Prime Minister.
Rs.5404.88 crores is the value of the liquor procured by TASMAC from Midas company in the past three years.
5 – Total number of official press meets
151 – The total number of times Jayalalithaa’s name was uttered in the 2015 state budget presentation speech.
Rs.4,400 crores – Funds allocated by the centre, but unused by the Tamil Nadu Government for the construction and repair of school buildings
12 – Total number of ministers who actually do not have educational qualifications but claimed to have them in the legislative assembly records.
Tamil Nadu occupies 4th position in the country when it comes to the number of former ministers. Credit goes entirely to Jayalalithaa. In the past four-and-a-half years, more than 25 ministers were appointed and removed uncermoniously. The cabinet has been shuffled 24 times. The Chief Minster has the right to shuffle the cabinet for administrative ease. But Jayalalithaa uses the power indiscriminately. Kicking the ministers and their portfolios around is one of her favourite pass-time.
34 ministers were sworn in with Jayalalithaa in 2011. Only 11 of them have successfully held on to their ministries until now. The others were probably removed on charges of corruption and/ or inefficiency, but why bring them back into the cabinet later? RB Undayakumar, SP Shanmuganathan, SP Velumani, Gokulas Indira, PV Ramana, and Anandan are some of the ministers who were removed from the cabinet and then brought back after some time. The ministry of education saw six ministers walk in and out in the past four years – CV Shanmugham, Agri Krishnamurthy, NR Shivapathi, Vaigai Selvan, Palaniappan, and KC Veeramani. Anandan, whose portfolio was taken away after he was caught in a woman-related scandal, was brought back within three months.
Advisors or power centres?
The persons in power were reduced to mere dummies with the appointment of “advisors” – the actual centre of power. Advisors were appointed even for crucial posts like Chief Secretary and Director General of Police. The very next day of his retirement,State Chief Secretary Debendranath Sarangi was brought in as a Advisor. His successor Mrs. Sheela Balakrishnan too was appointed as Advisor as soon as she retired. After the end of his extended tenure as the Director General of the police department, Ramanujan was brought in as a Advisor. After retirement, Venkataraman and Sheela Priya were back as the Chief Minister’s secretaries.
With extensions of their tenures in the newly created posts of Advisors, these officers have reduced the serving IAS and IPS officers to mere dummies, and have disrupted the seniority-based promotion system. An impression has been created as if these officers are inefficient. Charges are being raised that she has enabled officers who had been supportive of her to continue in their services as Advisors and enjoy the perks and privileges that come with their jobs.
‘Tit for tat’ politics
The DMK regime announced a flyover project directly connecting Chennai Port to Maduravoil. With 30 % of the work having been completed already, Jayalalithaa abrubtly stopped the project, claiming that it would interrupt with the flow of the Coovam River. Had the plan been completed, it would have greatly eased the flow of goods from the suburban roads to the port. Car manufacturing companies could have directly sent their cars to the ports for export.
Another example of Jayalalithaa’s tit-for-tat politics was her decision to convert the new Secretariat building into a hospital. Citing irregularities in the construction of the new Secretariat, she had constituted an inquiry commission under the chairmanship of Justice Raghupati. Four and a half years have passed, no new revelations have been made. Money spent on the inquiry commission? Rs.1.53 crores.
When she announced her plans to convert the Anna Library, a pet project of Karunanidhi, into a children’s hospital, the court intervened and stopped her in her tracks. The library was saved, but in an effort to run it down, no new books have been added, and even the basic facilities are now being denied to the library.
Police or tools of revenge?
The best proof that Jayalalithaa has not been managing the police department (a portfolio that she continues to hold) properly is the law and order situation in the state, which has become a laughing stock. Public flinched at the way the police handled the protest of handicapped persons, who were demanding the appointment of qualified blind persons as teachers. Can anyone forget the way Yuvaraj, the prime accused in the Gokulraj murder case, played hide and seek with the cops? Yuvaraj is the only accused person in the history of the country to have fixed a time and place of his own choice to surrender to the police.
Tamil Nadu police, touted to be as efficient as the Scotland Yard, now stands guard outside TASMAC shops – a not-so-proud moment in its illustrious history. The police have been investigating the murder of former minister Nehru’s brother since March 2012, and nothing has been accomplished yet. When a case was filed seeking CBI inquiry into the incident, the cops are tirelessly seeking adjournments.
According to statistics, after Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, Tamil Nadu has the highest rate of sexual abuse of the girl child. Can anyone forget the instance when the police were accused of having sexually assaulted an under-aged girl? Honour killing is another example of the worsening law and order situation in the state. Sivagangai, Usilampatti, Sattur, Seevalaperi…the instances are aplenty. The police department is more interested in covering up, instead of preventing, such cases of honour killings.
Violence erupted all over Tamil Nadu when Jayalalithaa was sent to the prison in the wealth amassment case. Private and government properties were destroyed by her sympathizers. AIADMK protesters stopped a bus in Kancheepuram and set it ablaze. Buses were also burnt in Vilathikulam, Virudhunagar and Kariapatti. The offices and residences of leaders of the opposition were not spared either. The police watched quietly while these acts of violence were unleashed.
Jayalalithaa constituted a separate committee under the chairmanship of the Commissioner of Revenue Administration to recover from the PMK, a sum of Rs.100 crores, which was calculated as the loss inflicted upon the government due to the damage caused by the party-led protesters in the Marakkanam violence. But, no action was taken against the AIADMK for the losses caused by its violent protests. “In the past 4 ½ years, during the AIADMK rule, the state saw 9,000 murders and 88,500 robberies,” Ramadas, the PMK founder-leader, said. Each month, the police department publishes, on its website, data on the number of crimes and complaints filed all over the state. The practice has now been discontinued after the astronomical rise in the number of crimes.
‘Silent spectator’ is another nickname earned by the Tamil Nadu police nowadays. The spectatorship, which began with the Law College students’ riot, continues to this date. There were protests all over Tamil Nadu when EVKS Elangovan made derogatory statements about the Chief Minister. Protesters immediately began burning his effigies. The police gave protection to these protesters and watched silently as they went about attacking the Sathyamurthy Bhavan,State Party headquarters of Congress party, in shifts. Did the police not accomplish anything useful at all? Of course they did! Ganesan, the Assistant Commissioner (Crime) of Salem West zone, went on a 10-days leave by claiming that he had a leg injury and campaigned for the AIADMK during the RK Nagar elections, wearing dhoti flaunting party’s colours! The only difference is hsis colleagues did similar things in uniform.
Shining TASMAC, dazzling Midas!
The government, which should be educating the masses, is more interested in getting them drunk. Condemning this attitude, social activist Sasiperumal climbed a mobile phone tower to protest, fell down and lost his life. Kovan, who sang songs like ‘Moodu…TASMAC-ai moodu,’ (close the TASMAC shops) and ‘Oorukku ooru sarayam, thalladuthu Tamizhagam’ (liquor shops everywhere, Tamil Nadu stumbles), was arrested on sedition charges and sent to prison. The government’s claims, of rescuing the financially backward people from the clutches of illicit arrack, and its strategy of opening TASMAC shops everywhere to improve the socio-economic status of the people is something you would never see anywhere else. “Antisocial elements are not allowed to loot the masses by selling liquor to them. Only we, the government, are,” is the loud message from the Jayalalithaa’s government.
The sale of alcohol alone earns an annual revenue of more than Rs.22,000 crores. This is the kind of money generated at TASMC. In an attempt to ensure that the money doesn’t end up with antisocial elements, it is being diverted to Midas, Elite and SNJ. After coming to power, AIADMK has given license to four new breweries in the state. Revenue from TASMAC increased only by Rs.2000 crores during the DMK regime. Thanks to the hard work of Jayalalithaa’s government, it continues to increase by Rs.3000 crores now.
19 companies supply liquor to TASMAC. Midas leads the list. Everybody knows who this company belongs to. In order to ensure that there is no decrease of revenue, a toll-free helpline, 10581, has been opened to report the sale of spurious liquor. Ironically, there is no such toll-free helplines for ration shops.
The government is proud of the fact that there are no spurious liquor-related deaths in the state since 2011. How does the government explain alcohol-related road accidents, sexual assaults, domestic violence, and law and order situations? The culprits who assaulted little girls in places like Thiruvallur Sozhavaram Ambedkar Nagar, and Krishnagiri Thottamanji Panchayat Thodakarai village were drunk on TASMAC liquor. It was under the influence of the TASMAC liquor that a gang sexually assaulted a college girl in Krishnagiri.
Irregularities and allegations of corruption
There is corruption and irregularities everywhere – from eggs procurement to theatre sales. Public Works Department contractors have their own list of top 10 most corrupt officials. Muthu Kumaraswamy, a senior official in Department of Agriculture paid with his life for the greed of higher officials. Many said that he had committed suicide because he was being pressurized by Minister Agri Krishnamurthy and his henchmen to collect bribes for the appointment of drivers. Despite the fact that corruption had become this rampant, Jayalalithaa continued to ignore it all as if they were happening in the neighbouring states. Only when the media and the opposition brought the scandal out did she remove the tainted minister Agri Krishnamurthy from his post.
Zero in eggs
About 68 lakh children are benefitted from the government’s decision to add eggs to the nutritious meal menu. The government procures 3.5 crore eggs each week for the scheme. As long as separate tenders were issued for each district to procure the eggs, there were no problems. The system was changed all of a sudden. A common tender was issued for the entire state and certain qualifications were added. For example, the supplier should have an experience of at least seven years in supplying eggs or other edible items; and it should have had past transactions of at least Rs.90 crores with the government. The opposition claimed that these conditional clauses were added for the benefit of certain companies. These eggs were procured from the vendors at prices that were higher than the retail prices. ‘Christy Fried Gram Industry’ had won the Karnataka state government contract to provide nutritious food to children and pregnant women in the state, but was disqualified after it supplied worm and insect-infected food. This is the company that is now supplying eggs to the Tamil Nadu government.
Aavin mega scam!
Adulterated milk is Aavin’s biggest embarrassment. The main operator of this scam was Vaidhyanathan, the joint secretary of the South Chennai District Jayalalithaa forum. The tankers that bring milk to the Aavin depots were stopped en route and milk was stolen from them and was replaced with water. Thousands of litres of milk were thus stolen each day from these tankers. In order to cover up the dilution, lot of chemicals were added to the milk. This dangerously adulterated milk was then sold to the general public.
Who is this Vaidhyanathan? He was once working as a coolie at Aavin. He somehow managed to win the tanker lorry contract and has now become a very rich man and owns a fleet of vehicles. When the scandal became public, Jayalalithaa was forced to expel him from the party. The situation was so bad that the Madras High Court had to threaten that it would order a CBI inquiry if the state government didn’t take any steps to find out the extent to which the senior executives of Aavin were involved in this scam.
Coca Cola Blunder
“The sound of a factory siren is the beginning of the death of a village,” goes a saying. The Coca Cola controversy proved another adage – the building of a factory invariably fills up a number of pockets. The Perundhurai Coca Cola factory scandal at Erode is the best proof of the high-handedness of Minister Thoppu Venkatachalam. With liberal concessions and special facilities, the government gave permission to Coca Cola for the construction of its factory at SIPCOT. There was a huge uproar against the plant. In the legislative assembly, Venkathachalam denied giving permission for the construction of the factory. But his lie was laid bare when EVKS Elangovan presented plenty of proof to the contrary. Crores of Rupees were reported to have given as bribes. “Is Venkatachalam the Minister for environment or an agent of Coca Cola?” demanded EVKS Elangovan. The government was forced to revoke the license granted earlier.
The granite loot
When Madurai District Collector Mr. Sahayam found out about the illegal granite quarrying amounting to Rs.16,000 crores and sent a report to the government, instead of taking action on the report, Jayalalithaa turned against the officer and transferred him. The public were stunned when they came to know about the sheer magnitude of the scam after the report hit the media. The Madras High Court appointed Sahayam to look into the illegal granite quarrying. But the Jayalalithaa government did nothing to implement the order. Action was taken only after the government was warned and a penalty of Rs.10,000 was imposed on it. Although the government has reluctantly agreed to conduct the inquiry, it has done nothing to cooperate with the official. This was why the IAS officer slept in the cremation ground itself, because he feared that the police would remove the human skeletal remains from the spot.
Losses incurred to the government due to the illegal granite quarrying are estimated to be more than Rs.1 lakh crore. Instead of taking strict action against those involved in the act, the government is more interested in creating roadblocks to stall the investigations.
Corruption in pulse procurement
Irregularity in the procurement of pulses is just a sample of the kind of corruptions happening in the Civil Supplies department. There are complaints now that irregularities have occurred in the procurement of pulses to be allocated to the PDS ration shops. When pulses were available for lower prices in the open market, procuring urad and toor dal at higher prices resulted in losses of Rs.730 crores to the government. Buying the pulses for the entire year at one shot will result in more losses if the market prices fall. The procurement policy for pulses would have incurred losses of up to Rs.3000 crores to the government in the past four years. “Why is the government giving the contract to the same company as if to show gratitude?” Ramadas, PMK Founder asked.
Mineral sand quarrying
Complaints surfaced that mineral sand is being quarried illegally at the mines allocated to VV Minerals in Thoothukudi district. The then district collector Ashish Kumar recommended the government to constitute a special committee to look into it. A ban was imposed on mineral sand quarries. The quarries were inspected by a special committee headed by the former Revenue Department Secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi. The government continues to simply ignore the opposition’s query on why this report has not been made public. 71 private companies were banned from mineral sand quarrying. While this ban still continues, only VV Minerals and World Garnet are exempted from the ban by the court and permitted to resume the mineral sand quarrying.
Smuggling of Ration rice
The CAG report submitted in the parliament claimed that rice issued through ration shops in Tamil Nadu is being smuggled. In 2011-12,of the 35.32 lakh tonnes of rice that was allocated to Tamil Nadu, nearly 3.76 lakh tonnes, valued at Rs.610 crores, was smuggled, according to the report.
Fake silence for Karnataka
Jayalalithaa boldly led lawful protests for crucial issues like Cauvery, Mullaiperiyar, and Paalar water sharing disputes. She made the Union Government to publish the Cauvery arbitration report in the official gazette. Whenever neighbouring states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka denied water to Tamil Nadu, she would issue scathing press statements. All these fire spitting statements were issued till the judgment of the disproportionate wealth case was delivered in September 2014. Jayalalitha’s tone and tenor changed after Justice Kunha’s judgment.
There was no reaction from Jayalalithaa when Karnataka announced its plans to construct a new dam at Meggedadu. While farmers in Tamil Nadu united to protest, AIADMK did not express its solidarity with them. There was not even a word of condemnation against the Karnataka government in the resolution passed in the assembly. Why is the state legislative assembly which passed lengthy resolutions against the Sri Lankan government, so silent about Karnataka?
The awards that sit idle on the attic
Each year, the Tamil Nadu government gives away awards to the members of the Tamil film fraternity, for various categories like best performance and best technicians. For the past six years, from 2009 to 2014, the awards haven’t been given at all. Even awards for films made by the students of the FTI, the government grants for films and awards for television artistes too have been stopped or put on cold storage.
Special awards presented in the names of Aringnar Anna, Kalaivanar, Raja Sando, MGR, Kannadasan, Shivaji Ganesan, and the Thyagaraja Bhagavathar have also been shelved.
Wasting public funds
With advertisements, films can be made to run successfully in theatres. Can the government be run on mere campaigns? Yes, says the Jayalalithaa government. Crores of Rupees is being spent each year to highlight the government’s annual accomplishments, starting from the very first ‘Noorandu Pesum Oraandu Saadhanai’ (The one year’s accomplishments can stand for the next hundred years) campaign.
When the 11 storied building crashed at Mouliwakkam, Jayalalithaa said that there was nothing wrong with the permission issued by the government, and squarely blamed the private company and procedural irregularities for the collapse. The inquiry commission said the same thing too. “If you want to give floral bouquets to Jayalalithaa, they have to be placed in baskets. You will have to stand two feet away from her and give it. Until her assistant comes and takes the bouquet away, you will have to continue holding it. You will have to stand in this particular posture for pictures…” These are some of the instructions given to persons who wish to offer bouquets to her. “Are the flowers clean and stain-free? Are there any thorns in the plant? Are there stapler pins?...” All these details are looked into by the associates. If so many terms and conditions are imposed for something as routine as giving floral bouquets, where were they when companies were blatantly violating government norms during the building construction? Are human lives cheaper than floral bouquets?
Starting from Rs.29 crores for the first year, a sum of Rs.20 crores has been spent for the four-year accomplishment campaign.
Rs.76.04 crores was spent on converting the new Secretariat, built by Karunanidhi, into a hospital. Instead of inaugurating this hospital in person, Jayalalithaa opted for a video-conference inauguration. Rs.1.74 crores was spent on advertising for the event.
Publications like 100 days accomplishment memento; annual mementos including first year accomplishments, second year accomplishments, Ammavin Ezhuchimigu Uraigal’ (Amma’s inspiring speeches), ‘Ammavin Amudha Mozhigal’ (Amma’s nectar-like words), and ‘Ammavin Muthaana Kadhaigal’ (Amma’s precious stories) lavished praises about Jayalalithaa. These books, which should have been published by the AIADMK party, were printed by the government with public money.
A jubilant Jayalalithaa, after wining the elections in 2011, made a pact with the media persons. “Let’s make a deal. Don’t constantly harass me for opinions and interviews. Once every week, on Tuesdays, I shall meet you,” she said. As promised, she met the press the following Tuesday. After that, the meets never happened. In fact, only five such meetings were held in the past four years – over the controversy surrounding the release of ‘Vishwaroopam,’ the press meet held in New Delhi, and after releasing the list of candidates for the parliamentary elections. Impromptu interactions were scarcer. No chief minister can function in this country without interacting with the media. Jayalalithaa had accomplished that feat too!
Vision… no, mission
“I’m gong to make Tamil Nadu the No.1 state in India,” this is Jayalalithaa’s favourite quote. The blueprint of this ambitious plan was the ‘Vision 2023’ statement, released in the year 2012. Two years later, in 2014, part-2 of the statement was released. Immediately, all the ministers fell over each other to shower praises on her as if all their dreams had come true. Infrastructure facilities at a cost of Rs.15 lakh crores; 6-lane and 8-lane roads connecting Chengalpattu-Tuticorin, Tuticorin-Coimbatore and Coimbatore-Chengalpattu at a cost of Rs.24,000 crores; airport expansion plans of Rs.25,000 crores; industrialization plans for Rs.1,60,985 crores; new houses for slum dwellers at a cost of Rs.25,000 crores … nobody knows when these colourful crackers will actually explode.
A student was once asked to write a 30-line essay about coconut trees. He was never regular to school. And, he knew nothing about coconut trees. But, he knew a lot about cows. He began, “A cow has four legs. It has two horns…” Somehow he managed to fill up 29 lines. His thirtieth line was – “Cows are normally tied to the coconut trees.” This is one of the short stories said by Jayalalithaa.
Jayalalithaa said something, but did something else. But, in a intimidating tone, she keeps asking us repeatedly, “Will you do it?”
Is she referring to the votes cast?
- VIKATAN TEAM