Chennai: A year after
she stormed to power in Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa
still enjoys wide support in the state. But the number of critics
is rising too.
Reactions on one year of AIADMK rule varied as Jayalalithaa began
her second year in office Wednesday,
It was on this day in 2011 that the actress-turned-politician took
the oath of office -- for the third time since 1991.
Most of the poor seem happy. The government gives 20 kg of free
rice to the poor and 35 kg for the very poor.
Four grams of 'mangalsutra' in gold is also given free to the poor
besides the Rs.25,000 already provided during weddings.
The pension for the elderly, destitute, widows and differently
abled women has been doubled to Rs.1,000. Compensation to
fishermen who suffered during a 45-day fishing ban has been hiked.
Other election promises like free laptops for students, free
mixers or grinders, fans and induction stoves, free sanitary
napkins for rural women, free cattle for the poor and other
schemes have been implemented.
"The free cattle scheme has benefited sections of the rural people
and kindled the hopes of millions. It is a good scheme," Communist
Party of India leader D. Pandian told IANS.
The middle class is, however, upset that bus fares and milk and
power costs have shot up.
"My power bill has doubled and it is pinching. We are now reducing
our power consumption," R. Raghunathan, a retired private sector
employee, told IANS.
Power cuts are rampant.
The chief minister's controversial stand of asking the central
government to stop all construction at the Kudankulam Nuclear
Power Project (KNPP) effectively delayed it by six months.
After initially backing local protests against the project,
Jayalalithaa gave the green signal in March this year.
The Vision 2023 document released by Jayalalithaa has set a target
of making Tamil Nadu one of the top three investment destinations
in Asia by 2023.
According to CPI's Pandian, the Jayalalithaa government's stand on
issues like the Mullaperiyar dam row with Kerala and the situation
in Sri Lanka gained the support of all political parties.
The chief minister also wants the death penalty given to three
people from Tamil Nadu for the 1991 assassination of former prime
minister Rajiv Gandhi to be converted into life imprisonment.
Politically, however, Jayayalithaa is now a virtual loner. She
upset electoral allies by going against one of them, the DMDK.
"The AIADMK thinks it has gained strength and does not need
others. This thinking will have serious implications," Pandian
Jayalalithaa has declared that the AIADMK will play a key role
nationally in the times to come.
The government's decision to crack the whip on land grabbers has
received popular backing.
According to the government, following 34,700 complaints, 1,299
people who had grabbed land were arrested and land worth Rs.758
crore was restored to the rightful owners.
Some pet schemes of former chief minister M. Karunanidhi like
provision of free colour televisions for ration card holders have
been scrapped and some have been re-launched.
More famously, Jayalalithaa has refused to shift the secretariat
from Fort St. George to the new assembly and secretariat building.
The latter, she said, will be converted into a hospital.
Jayalalithaa also maintains a distance from the central
government. She is against some of the latter's initiatives,
saying they encroach upon the states' autonomy.
Jagannathan can be contacted at email@example.com)