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Jaya passes 100-day test

The first 100 days of the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu with Jayaram Jayalalithaa at the helm for a third stint as the chief minister, have been action packed.

india Updated: Aug 24, 2011 17:07 IST
HT Correspondent

The first 100 days of the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu with Jayaram Jayalalithaa at the helm for a third stint as the chief minister, have been action packed.

Contrary to apprehensions, this time she is not on a mission of vendetta against DMK chief Karunanidhi. Instead, the chief minister has focused on fulfilling her election promises - bringing land grabbers to book and making allocations for welfare schemes. She has also begun a debate on national issues – the Centre’s proposed Prevention of Communal and Targetted Violence Bill and the Goods and Services Tax Bill.

"She is more friendly and cautious and has had a good beginning," said Prof Ramu Manivannan, head of department, public administration and political science, Madras University.

Back in 2001, after coming to power, Jayalalithaa had thrown Karunanidhi and his sons in jail to get even for her own jail stint.

This time, since assuming office on May 16, the chief minister had cracked down on land grab, getting senior DMK leaders and their musclemen arrested. Over the last five years, DMK functionaries had allegedly been on a land-grabbing spree. Approving the crackdown, people across the state have lodged nearly 8,000 complaints.

Positive action

1. Campaign against land grabbers: Anti-land grab cells formed in 30 districts, over 8000 complaints received. Most arrested are DMK functionaries
2. Judicial probe instituted into the cost overruns and misappropriations, if any, in the new assembly and secretariat project
3. Implementation of poll promises: The allocation for freebies and welfare schemes amounts to Rs 8,900 crore and the distribution is likely to begin in September. The poor will receive 20 kg rice and the very poor 35 kg rice per month. Girls from poor families will receive gold
mangalsutra weighing 4 gm; stipend and laptops will be given to poor students of Class XI and XII.

Prof KR Shanmugam of Madras School of Economics said Jayalalithaa has begun well by tackling the immediate problems of power and agriculture, going by the massive allocations. "Already power cuts have come down," he said.

On a national level, she is preparing for a bigger role, said Manivannan. There is hope that with the DMK mired in the 2G scam and Karunanidhi upset about the Congress inaction over the incarceration of his daughter Kanimozhi in Tihar jail, a fruitful relationship with the UPA government is possible.

Accordingly, Jayalalithaa has refrained from attacking the Congress, focusing instead on issues.

She has written to her Uttar Pradesh counterpart Mayawati, asking her to oppose the "anti-federal" Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill, 2011. She has asked non-Congress chief ministers to fight the Centre on the proposed Goods and Services Tax Bill. On Monday, she wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, accusing the Centre of usurping states’ powers.

On the flip side, she has slipped up on the education policy, trying to scrap the common syllabus for schools initiated by the DMK government, said political analyst Gnani Sankaran. "Also, the freebie trap will hit the funds meant for development."

Reversal of DMK decisions

* Shifting seat of power from new assembly and secretariat complex to St Fort George, turning the complex into a hospital
* Stopping Samacheer Kalvi (uniform syllabus for schools); forced to accept it after Supreme Court rebuke
* Stopping free colour tv scheme for ration card holders
* Replacing Kalaignar Housing Scheme with Greenhouse Scheme to provide housing for the poor

Her decision to turn the new assembly and secretariat complex into a hospital has already drawn criticism from the opposition, with Karunanidhi dubbing her government the "Tughlaq durbar".