Jaya’s Serial Vendetta
The CM is scrapping every project launched by the DMK. The latest casualty is an eight-storey library.
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.
JAYALALITHAA (ABOVE) WANTS TO CONVERTTHE ANNALIBRARYINTO A CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL