Thursday, June 13, 2024

2012: Jaya’s water, power woes continue


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Chennai: 2012 was a difficult year for Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa as she had to wage a legal battle with Karnataka on the Cauvery issue and face criticism for long powercuts in the state from all quarters including archrival DMK, which itself was beset with internal squabbles.

Fighting against the odds, she unveiled a grand vision document promising to make the state ‘numero uno’ by 2023 and announced a slew of sops. A firm grip over power aided by a fragmented Opposition notwithstanding, she faced an uphill task on the Cauvery issue and secure more power to tide over the crisis.

With standing Samba crop in Cauvery delta region withering, Jayalalithaa kept knocking at the doors of Supreme Court to get the state’s share of Cauvery water which expressed its helplessness.

The apex court, however, came to the rescue of Tamil Nadu by directing Karnataka to release some water with farmers and political leaders in Karnataka strongly resisting and farmers in Tamil Nadu demanding more.

Jayalalithaa announced series of welfare measures, most of them free of cost, and a promise to provide good governance, but power shortage became a major irritant for her 18-month old regime, with DMK chief M Karunanidhi terming it as a “dark rule” in the wake of long power cuts and other issues. Jayalalithaa shot off letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on regular basis over a variety of issues including Cauvery dispute, the attack on Tamil Nadu fishermen, training of Sri Lankan defence personnel by India and power issue among others. Her flip-flop on the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, which was to have gone on steam last year itself but has been delayed, also came in for criticism. For the second year in a row since its drubbing in last year’s polls, DMK had to confront with internal politics, something not too common in the party.

Supporters of Karunanidhi’s sons Alagiri and Stalin were involved in an altercation at a meeting in Madurai, prompting the 88-year-old patriarch to convene a meeting for truce. With the sons involved in a reported race for supremacy in party ranks, Karunanidhi seemed to favour his younger son, the Chennai-based Stalin, giving some hints about succession.

There were fissures too in the seven-year-old DMDK, founded by actor Vijayakant, with four of his MLAs calling on AIADMK supremo under the pretext of taking up constituency- related issues.

Members of rival parties calling on heads of opposite camps is not a common feature in the state, with Jayalalithaa expressing regret over aligning with DMDK, following a spat with the actor-politician in the Assembly.

Otherwise, buoyed by the massive win in last year’s general elections, AIADMK also swept the civic polls and the subsequent bypolls, with the party chief eyeing a bigger role in national politics. The 63 year-old-leader has made her ambition public when she asked her partymen to gift all the 40 Lok Sabha seats (39 in Tamil Nadu and one in Puducherry) to her in the next parliamentary polls. In 2004 Parliamentary polls, DMK-led alliance with Congress had bagged all the 40 seats that helped UPA-I form the government at the Centre. Exhibiting her tough anti-Congress stand, she aligned with her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik to back the NDA nominee P A Sangma for the Presidential election, but without success. The AIADMK supremo also strongly opposed FDI in multi- brand retail contending it would badly affect the trading community who constitute a sizeable percentage in the state population. She declared she won’t implement it in the state.

In order to upstage DMK and other Dravidian parties over the Lankan Tamils issue, Jayalalithaa sent back two teams of football players from the neighbouring country who had come to play friendlies while she forced the Centre to shift Sri Lankan military personnel from military bases in the state. She vociferously demanded that the uniformed men from the island republic should not be given training on Indian soil. On the economic front, she launched a major initiative when 12 multi-national corporations covering a vast span including automobile and telecommunications proposed to invest Rs 20,295 crore in the state.

She also unveiled the ambitious Vision 2023, seeking to make the state number one in all spheres with the active participation of the private sector also. The DMK, having lost the main opposition status to the much younger DMDK in the 2011 Assembly polls, continued to attract much interest among political observers with the party doing a flip-flop on FDI.

After initially opposing the move saying it was inimical to small traders, and hinting that his party may vote against the government in Parliament on the issue, Karunanidhi did a U-turn when he backed UPA citing its stability.

He claimed the fall of the government would pave the way for “communal forces” taking over. Parties in the state spoke in one voice when they objected against some depiction of the Nadar community in CBSE books. The US Consulate here was targeted in connection with an anti-Islam movie. (PTI)



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