Tamil Nadu

Handling of crisis sparks debate on OPS’ leadership

: Monday’s violence and the police action against sections of pro-jallikattu protesters have drawn mixed response from a cross-section of politicians and civil society activists on the leadership of Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.

For the Chief Minister, the mass agitations across the State marked the first crisis since he assumed office in early December after the death of Jayalalithaa, who was considered to be a tough administrator. Even though Mr. Panneerselvam had held the office of Chief Minister twice in the past when Jayalalithaa was alive, he was perceived, in certain quarters, as a person who would like to carry out the orders of his leader, rather than conduct himself proactively.

Describing the police action as “totally unwarranted,” former bureaucrat M. G. Devasahayam says the day’s development had left behind “bitterness”. After promulgating an ordinance on jallikattu, Mr. Panneerselvam should have reached out to the protesters and explained the salient features of the law, as there were “genuine doubts” about the ordinance, which was not made public till Monday morning. “After all, in a democracy, the Chief Minister, being an elected person, is answerable to people,” he says.

R.S. Bharati, organising secretary of the DMK, recalls how party founder and former Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai, in March 1968, visited medical students after a clash between busmen of the State Transport Department and the students of the Madras Medical College. “Mr. Panneerselvam could have handled the situation in a wise manner, taking into account how similar situations were tackled in the past.”

‘Mischievous elements’

The DMK MP said that till Sunday, the youth, who had agitated demanding jallikattu, had conducted themselves in an orderly and peaceful way.

Besides, in any stir of such magnitude, it is an open secret that anti-social elements would be part of the protesters and the police should have, in the first instance, identified and removed them from the scene of the agitation.

However, Vaigaichelvan, spokesperson of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, counters the contention that the episode reflects the “weak leadership” of the Chief Minister. He says mischievous elements felt “emboldened” to resort to violence, seeing the “soft approach” of the police. This was why the police had to intervene in a way different from what it did in the first few days, he says.

Strongly defending Mr. Panneerselvam for having “ably tackled” the situation, K.T. Raghavan of the BJP said, “When it became evident that anti-social elements had taken control of the agitation, the police had to do everything to uphold the rule of law.


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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 2:10:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/Handling-of-crisis-sparks-debate-on-OPS%E2%80%99-leadership/article17090482.ece

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