Chennai’s gift to the Election Commission over the years has culminated in Praveen Kumar holding the fort at Varanasi
Tamil Nadu has a special connection with the Election Commission of India. Right from the “tough, assertive” T.N. Seshan, who redefined the status and visibility of the EC by introducing major reforms, the State has produced two more Chief Election Commissioners in the “polite yet firm” T.S. Krishnamurthy and N. Gopalswami. Chennai’s age-old tradition of fairness has perhaps rubbed off on the Chief Electoral Officers, even if they are from the north.
After Naresh Gupta, it is now the turn of Praveen Kumar to be in the limelight after being appointed as Special Observer for the May 12 polling in Varanasi, where the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, and Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal fight it out.
The intense competition among the main Dravidian parties seems to have unwittingly forced the CEOs to be on constant vigil and to sharpen their umpiring skills.
After covering hundreds of kilometres in campaigning, most leaders in the State are on a brief holiday. DMDK president Vijayakant is using the period to help his son Shanmugapandian with his first film Saghaptham, which is being shot at Pollachi. Never mind he is Leader of the Opposition. So engrossed was Vijayakant in his work for the film that he has not visibly reacted to important developments affecting the state, including the Supreme Court’s ban on jallikattu. His wife Premalatha and brother-in-law Sudheesh are also said to be with the actor-turned-politician who is likely to play a small cameo role in the film.
With senior police officer from Tamil Nadu Archana Ramasundaram taking charge as the CBI Additional Director without the formal approval from the State government, the issue has led to a Centre-State standoff. It has also dimmed the chances of some IPS officers serving a stint in the Central police organisations.
Though the appointment of Ms. Ramasundaram was cleared at least three months ago, the State government did not relieve her. After repeated reminders from the Centre, she took charge, but was suspended by the State. Another setback came when the Supreme Court, hearing a petition, restrained her from discharging her duties as the CBI Additional Director. In this backdrop, a few IPS officers whose deputation files are pending with the State government are now worried that their desire for working in the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) may not be fulfilled.
No photo ops
Come summer, the Nilgiris, queen of hills, puts its best foot forward as tourists arrive in droves. Events organised as part of the Summer Festival, such as Rose Show, Fruit Show and Flower Show, usually give the local politicians an opportunity to reach out to a larger audience.
This summer, the events are a little different, thanks to the model code of conduct enforced for the Lok Sabha elections. Though the visitors are spared long meetings and inaugural functions, the politicians seem to be fretting and fuming with no photo opportunities. Not just that. Fearing the wrath of the election commission, the politicians did not even interfere with the floating of tenders for various works linked to the shows.