Jaya’s Se­rial Vendetta

The CM is scrap­ping ev­ery project launched by the DMK. The lat­est ca­su­alty is an eight-storey li­brary.

India Today - - NATION - By Lak­shmi Subra­ma­nian

She started off on a sedate note and put ev­ery­one at ease. But all that is in the past. In the lat­est of an on­go­ing ex­er­cise to undo all that the ear­lier DMK govern­ment did, Tamil Nadu Chief Min­is­ter J. Jay­alalithaa’s govern­ment an­nounced the con­ver­sion of the Anna Cen­te­nary Li­brary into a spe­cialty hos­pi­tal for chil­dren. If the AIADMK chief’s pre­scrip­tion pre­vails— the Madras High Court on Novem­ber 4 stayed the pro­posal—the Rs 172-crore li­brary com­plex will soon be echo­ing to the wails of chil­dren.

The lat­est an­nounce­ment makes it clear that the pol­i­tics of vendetta is em­bed­ded Tamil Nadu pol­i­tics and that Jay­alalithaa is not one to for­give and for­get in a hurry. She is sys­tem­at­i­cally scrap­ping ev­ery sin­gle project launched by her pre­de­ces­sor, M. Karunanidhi. In the past, too, ev­ery change of guard in Chen­nai has been ac­com­pa­nied by the vic­tor un­leash­ing vengeance upon the van­quished. “Nowhere in In­dia, ex­cept pos­si­bly Ut­tar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, does this cul­ture of vendetta pre­vail,” says po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst V. Kr­ishna Ananth.

The li­brary, an eight-storey com­plex in­au­gu­rated in Septem­ber 2010, al- ready has 12 lakh books and boasts of re­search fa­cil­i­ties. Con­nected to the world dig­i­tal li­brary net­work for shar­ing data­base, it is pop­u­lar among both school­child­ren and re­search schol­ars. The premises where the li­brary stands was cho­sen by Jay­alalithaa dur­ing her ear­lier stint as chief min­is­ter be­tween 2001 and 2006 for a new sec­re­tar­iat com­plex. But her dream to build a sec­re­tar­iat “that will be even bet­ter than the Vid­hana Soudha in Ban­ga­lore” never ma­te­ri­alised.

Karunanidhi gave the mat­ter a Tamil-cul­ture-un­der-threat spin. “Jay­alalithaa is try­ing to shift the li­brary due to vendetta. She had ear­lier shelved sa­macheer kalvi (uni­form syl­labus), shifted the new sec­re­tar­iat com­plex and abol­ished var­i­ous Anna uni­ver­si­ties. She is try­ing to de­stroy the cul­tural sym­bols of Tamils,” he said.

An­a­lysts see it as a knee-jerk re­sponse to score a point. “It is the height of po­lit­i­cal stu­pid­ity. How can in­fra­struc­ture built specif­i­cally for aca­demics be used for some other pur­pose? I hope bet­ter sense pre­vails,” says Tamil writer Gnani Sankaran.

LENS

JAY­ALALITHAA (ABOVE) WANTS TO CONVERTTHE ANNALIBRARYINTO A CHIL­DREN’S HOS­PI­TAL

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