Chief Minister has still around four years left and should introspect carefully as to what has gone right and what has gone wrong during the last one year.
Not a day passes without a prominent appearance of photographs and speeches of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister in visual and print media published in Tamil Nadu. It appears from the widespread media reports that the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister is everywhere in Tamil Nadu, visiting a family of narikurava to share breakfast, visiting a hospital to see a sick girl undergoing treatment, cycling on the road by way of physical exercise , releasing water from a dam and so on. It appears that the Chief Minister is spending more time in public places than in the Secretariat.
Every announcement in the state is made in the name of the Chief Minister and the ministers always state with great care that any decision that the minister announces has been the Chief Minister’s decision. The overall impression is that it is the Chief Minister who alone matters in the Tamil Nadu government and he is the be all and end all of the government, as if no one else exists.
The print and visual media published in Tamil Nadu are extremely careful not to state anything that would be critical of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister or the state government, for whatever reasons. While the coverage with regard to the activities of the Tamil Nadu government, ruling party and the political allies of the ruling party are extensive in the media, the views of the opposition leaders get only scanty reference and only when it is inevitable.
Under the circumstances ,the public confidence in the media is declining rapidly and people are turning to social media to get the real news.
The Chief Minister frequently announces formation of committees , institution of awards, decisions on statues and memorials etc. and one gets an impression that considerable time is spent by him in identifying such announcement opportunities.
Overall, viewing the media coverage and tall claims of the Chief Minister, any innocent person gets an impression that everything is rosy in Tamil Nadu. Whenever there is any issue confronting the state, Chief Minister simply writes letters to the central government , as if he has no responsibility in such matters concerning the state.
To cover up the grave issues in Tamil Nadu , people’s attention is sought to be diverted by speaking about non issues repeatedly such as NEET, indulging in anti Hindi rhetoric and coinage of new terms as ondriya arasu, dravidian model etc. The concern of the Chief Minister about protecting the interest of the Tamil language is unnecessary, as Tamil language remains well protected and enriched by several scholars and poets in the past and present and does not really need political support of the state government. There are some suspicions that Tamil language is used as a political tool to popularize the government.
Apart from the above, the one issue that the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister focus is on Hindu temples , where several traditional religious practices are being discredited , even while spreading an impression that the state government is concerned about protecting Hindu temples by recovering encroached land etc.
Hindu Gods are being systematically abused by some individuals and they go unpunished. Several Hindu institutions such as Ayodhya mandapam have been targeted and interference in affairs of temples like Nataraja temple in Chidambaram are taking place.
The ground reality in Tamil Nadu today is extremely disturbing over the last one year. The acts of murder , violence , corruption , rape including gang rape , spread of ganja habit amongst students and youth have become too frequent and many people have started thinking that safety in public life is becoming a question mark . Students wield lathis and knives openly and attack on the roads, murders are carried out in broad daylight in public view. The entire state was shocked when it was reported that in the Theni collector’s office , one employee attacked another employee with a knife causing serious injuries in full view of others.
Obviously, the criminals have become bold and are not fearing punishment. Such a situation has happened as a climate of violence is now sweeping the state , due to the ruling party men taking law into their own hands and political interference in police administration. While police forces are getting a bad name , the fact is , it is not due to them but in spite of them.
There are grave issues on the ground which are unattended. For example, thousands of bags of paddy have been lost in the last few months in the delta region , as procurement of paddy by the government department is delayed. Paddy bags have been drenched in rain due to want of storage space and corruption in the procurement have driven several farmers to a state of distress. In the firework factories in the Sivakasi region, several accidents and deaths have become too frequent and it is reported in the media as if it is a matter of routine.
Several valuable projects in Tamil Nadu are now stranded such as the Neutrino project, natural gas pipeline project from Kochi to Tamil Nadu and others. Sterlite copper unit in Tuticorin remains closed for more than four years with thousands of people losing jobs. Several investigation agencies including Anna University have confirmed that there is no change in the environmental scenario in Tuticorin region after the closure of Sterlite Copper , which obviously means that Sterlite Copper has not been causing the pollution, as claimed by the motivated activists and environmentalists.
The Chief Minister is frequently announcing new schemes about industrial projects , which are not likely to see the light in the next few years and Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) are being signed worth hundreds of crores of rupees. The fact is that such MOUs are mere scrap of paper, unless they would materialise which could be few and far between.
The net worth of 63 state government firms and corporations was negative at Rs.73,714 crore and the accumulated loss of 18 public sector undertakings had completely eroded their net worth. The net worth of 18 public sector undertakings stood at a negative Rs.1,08,863. 78 crore They include two power sector undertakings and 16 non power sector undertakings. Nothing worthwhile has been done in the last one year to improve the performance of these government undertakings.
The finances of the Tamil Nadu government are in extremely bad shape with a total debt burden exceeding Rs. 7 lakh crore. Still, in the current financial year, the state government is borrowing Rs.90,000 crores , unconcerned about the huge debt burden. Tax collections are not significantly improving, government administration is not being toned up and corruption has become the order of the day at every level of administration. Still, the government is not reducing the expenses and wasteful expenditures are being incurred in constructing statues, parks etc.
While several major promises were made during the pre election campaign , they have not been kept. However, taxes are being increased such as property tax and so on. What is particularly surprising is the unheard of practice that the property tax would be increased every year , whereas the objective of any government must be to optimise the performance , improve the tax collection and reduce the tax burden of the people.
Today , a lot of noise is being made by the Tamil Nadu government on issues that are really not of any economic value or even social value. Tall claims and chauvinism cannot be a substitute for a good and progressive governance.
Chief Minister has still around four years left and should introspect carefully as to what has gone right and what has gone wrong during the last one year. In the next four years, Chief Minister should utilize the opportunity by providing positive governance , rooting out corruption, discouraging hate politics and giving up confrontational approaches with the central government.