A re­turn to san­ity

The Sunday Guardian - - World -

The Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of In­dia need not have waited for so many months be­fore fi­nally reach­ing the ob­vi­ous con­clu­sion that the fac­tion rep­re­sented by Chief Min­is­ter E. Palaniswamy and for­mer Chief Min­is­ter O. Pan­neer­sel­vam was the ac­tual AIADMK, and not the small group that re­mained loyal to Sasikala Natara­jan. There are cred­i­ble re­ports that the Sasikala fac­tion was in contact with both the Congress and the DMK, and was work­ing to en­sure that the Tamil Nadu gov­ern­ment fell and fresh elec­tions got de­clared, in which it ex­pected to split the AIADMK vote suf­fi­ciently to en­able the Congress-DMK al­liance to come to power, with the back­ing of the Sasikala fac­tion. The bureaucracy in In­dia is known through­out the globe for its pro­cras­ti­nat­ing ways, and this qual­ity was re­vealed in full and un­pleas­ant dis­play dur­ing the months of de­lib­er­a­tion by the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion, dur­ing which the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the state was at risk of be­ing thrown into limbo. Had J. Jay­alalithaa in­tended to bring Sasikala into pol­i­tics from her role as con­stant com­pan­ion, the de­ceased leader would have given her a party po­si­tion, just as Chief Min­is­ter M. G. Ra­machan­dran anointed Jay­alalithaa as the AIADMK “Pro­pa­ganda Sec­re­tary”, a task that she ful­filled with ef­fi­ciency and grace. It was as clear that MGR was groom­ing Jay­alalithaa for a po­lit­i­cal ca­reer, as it was ob­vi­ous that Jay­alalithaa pre­ferred Sasikala to re­main her con­stant com­pan­ion, rather than as her suc­ces­sor in pol­i­tics. Of course, “Sasi” had the run of Poes Gar­den, the private res­i­dence of the ac­tress-turned­politi­cian, who dom­i­nated pol­i­tics in Tamil Nadu for close to two decades, and was on the cusp of high of­fice at the Cen­tral level be­fore Sasikala’s rel­a­tives en­sured her down­fall through clumsy manouev­er­ing for max­i­mum ad­van­tage from any party that was in a po­si­tion to of­fer good­ies to a fam­ily that moved from rel­a­tive poverty to stu­pen­dous wealth through mak­ing use of the con­trol that Sasikala Natara­jan had over the Jay­alalithaa gov­ern­ment. Had Sasikala the good sense to have re­mained be­hind the scenes, rather than her­self seek to as­sume the lead­er­ship of the state ad­min­is­tra­tion, she may still have re­mained the most pow­er­ful in­di­vid­ual in Tamil Nadu. How­ever, her desire for the Chief Min­is­ter­ship poi­soned re­la­tions with Chief Min­is­ter Palaniswamy, who till that time was her loy­al­ist. Ear­lier, the in­tem­per­ate man­ner in which a mem­ber of the Man­nar­gudi clan treated then Chief Min­is­ter Pan­neer­sel­vam was in­stru­men­tal in that mild-man­nered in­di­vid­ual openly chal­leng­ing her dom­i­nance over the party and emerg­ing as a leader in his own right as a con­se­quence.

While it has taken the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion months, in­stead of min­utes, to reach the ob­vi­ous con­clu­sion that the EPS-OPS com­bi­na­tion was the cor­rect owner of the “two leaves” sym­bol, hope­fully, it will not take as long for Chief Min­is­ter Palaniswamy to set right a sense of drift that had been af­fect­ing his ad­min­is­tra­tion. The peo­ple of Tamil Nadu, among the most pro­gres­sive states in In­dia, de­serve sta­ble and good gov­er­nance. Cor­rup­tion has been the poi­son that weak­ened the hold of the AIADMK over the vot­ers, and the Chief Min­is­ter needs to re­sist lures and temp­ta­tions. Rather, he should take strong steps against er­rant of­fi­cers, and go ahead with steps to en­sure greater trans­parency, for ex­am­ple, by throw­ing open to pub­lic gaze more pro­cesses of gov­ern­ment and by live stream­ing the con­sul­ta­tions taken be­fore de­ci­sions of con­se­quence get taken. The fi­nal months of Jay­alalithaa need to be in­ves­ti­gated in de­tail, in view of al­le­ga­tions that she was de­lib­er­ately kept from nec­es­sary treat­ment and was in a state of ter­mi­nal ne­glect when fi­nally ad­mit­ted to the hos­pi­tal where she passed away. Se­crecy pro­tects the cor­rupt far more times than it does the se­cu­rity of the state, hence the hear­ings on the Jay­alalithaa fi­nal ill­ness in­ves­ti­ga­tion should be con­ducted in pub­lic. The AIADMK gov­ern­ment should work for good re­la­tions with the Cen­tral gov­ern­ment, as this would as­sist in the re­cov­ery of the state from the ills that have been caused by po­lit­i­cal un­cer­tainty. In Chen­nai, the at­mo­sphere for long has been pol­luted by stories that the Cen­tral gov­ern­ment was go­ing to dis­solve the state As­sem­bly and de­clare Pres­i­dent’s Rule. This was, of course, a course of ac­tion de­voutly wished for by the Congress, the DMK and the Sasikala fac­tion. How­ever, un­less the Palaniswamy gov­ern­ment loses its ma­jor­ity, such a course is wholly im­prob­a­ble. Enough time has been wasted on in­trigues and shenani­gans. It is time for work, and Chief Min­is­ter Palaniswamy is on test to de­ter­mine whether he has the will and the wis­dom to be a wor­thy suc­ces­sor of J. Jay­alalithaa.

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