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Queues at Secretariat show no sign of thinning

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SEEKING RELIEF: Petitioners thronging the chamber of Minister for Health K.K.S.S.R. Ramachandran at the Secretariat in Chennai on Friday. Photo: M. Vedhan
SEEKING RELIEF: Petitioners thronging the chamber of Minister for Health K.K.S.S.R. Ramachandran at the Secretariat in Chennai on Friday. Photo: M. Vedhan

R.K. Radhakrishnan

Stalin, Veerasamy always attract a crowd, even when they are not in office

CHENNAI: Ever since Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and his team of Ministers occupied Fort St. George on May 13, a steady stream of assistance seekers has been thronging the seat of power.

It is nearly a month and there is no sign of the crowd thinning.

The Chief Minister, Local Administration Minister M.K. Stalin and Electricity Minister Arcot N. Veerasamy always attract a crowd, even when they are not in. Mr. Stalin's chamber has been shifted once (he now occupies the room earlier allotted to the Development Commissioner). Even this, according to his personal staff, is too small to accommodate the large number of people coming to meet him.

Mr. Stalin has been taking keen interest in all problems presented before him. Listening to people takes up a lot of his time at the Secretariat. When it is time for an official meeting, his personal staff can be seen pleading with people to vacate the room.

Mr. Veerasamy has been a traditional favourite with the people as he never says no to most requests. "He never discriminates against people from other constituencies. You make a request and, if it is possible, he will never say no," says a long-time associate of the Minister.

After the results were announced for standards XI and X, the numbers have only increased. Naturally, Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudi and School Education Minister Thangam Thennarasu are much sought after. With the issue of private engineering college seats yet to be sorted out, a visibly harassed Mr. Ponmudi also has the unenviable task of obliging voters from his constituency and elsewhere.

"See the innumerable problems people face," says a Minister, showing a huge bunch of petitions he had received from morning. "People feel we will do something. That's why they all come here."

Do the problems actually get solved? A senior Minister admitted that not everyone would go back pleased.

But many would be able to get some relief or the other financial aid, grants or scholarship for children, even money under the marriage assistance scheme.

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