Tamil Nadu

Stalin handled challenges in a mature manner, say DMK allies

The election victory, in the midst of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, posed many difficulties for Chief Minister M.K. Stalin.

The election victory, in the midst of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, posed many difficulties for Chief Minister M.K. Stalin. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Only a few Chief Ministers have created the kind of expectation that Tamil Nadu’s M.K. Stalin has done. The way he conducted himself during the Assembly election campaign last year and the promises he made indicated a Chief Minister in the making. However, the election victory in the midst of the second wave of COVID-19 had placed him in an unenviable position.

When he took oath of office on May 7, 2021, the challenges were too many: the State coffer was empty; the medical infrastructure was inadequate to handle the pandemic and he had to deal with a government at the Centre, led by the BJP, with a diametrically opposite political view.

A year on, the ruling DMK’s allies are full of praise for him, saying he has acted in a mature manner and handled the challenges well.

“He is accommodative and the way he is functioning has a positive effect on the government machinery and officials. Whether it was the farmers’ protest or the NEET, or other rights of the State, the DMK government has taken an uncompromising stand. It came out openly against the New Education Policy and announced its intention to make its own policy. He has a model framework for the States ruled by non-BJP governments,” said CPI (M) State secretary K. Balakrishnan.

Mr. Stalin’s style of functioning and his outreach created a confidence that the government would intervene and find a solution if an issue is brought to his notice.

Issues highlighted in social media also have received the government’s attention and many times, the Chief Minister himself extended a helping hand to the needy and the deserving.

“The major factor is that this is the government that has made people feel its presence in one year, while the AIADMK government led by Edappadi K. Palaniswami was never able to achieve the same. Though the DMK and the AIADMK are competent in governance, the ideological orientation the DMK government has been able to provide and its leadership, have given certain impetus to State policies,” said Ramu Manivannan, Professor and Head of the Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Madras.

‘Promises to fulfil’

There were areas that required special attention, especially when the State was going through a severe financial crisis and had promises to fulfil such as ₹1,000/month aid to housewives and the demand of the government employees and teachers for reverting to the old pension scheme, Mr. Balakrishnan pointed out.

“We have mines that can earn good money. Mining should be regulated. I do not know why the government has handed them over to the private entities. In most of the government offices, employees are working on a temporary basis. It will not augur well for the government in the future. Medium and small industries are in a bad shape and the State government has to address the issue since the Centre is indifferent,” he argued.

As people’s expectations are increasing and the DMK government has promises to fulfil, including the phased closure of Tasmac-run liquor shops, Mr. Manivannan said whether it is the AIADMK or the DMK, their empires were built on Tasmac and hence he would not take them seriously on that.

“Even if they do not shutdown the TASMAC, they can open toddy tapping as it would provide employment for two lakh people and reduce the reliance on Tasmac,” he said.

Mr. Balakrishnan said while the government depended on revenue from the sale of liquor, it should also take into account the social problems created by the drinking habit of people. “There is a survey that says Tamil Nadu is the one of the States that has a lot of domestic violence,” he pointed out.

Even though the DMK government is leaving no stones unturned to get exemption from NEET in the face of an unrelenting Centre, the issue has left the government in a tight spot because it had created an impression that it would dispense with the exam, the moment it assumed office.

A ‘tug of war’

“NEET is a tug of war and neither the State nor the Centre would compromise on it. We have to find a middle way because I am not enamoured by the Centre’s position or the critique provided by the DMK on the basis of State’s rights. It is a two-way process,” concluded Mr. Manivannan.

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2022 3:32:55 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/mk-stalin-manages-an-unenviable-task/article65385836.ece