AIADMK to celebrate 70th birth anniversary of late CM.
CHENNAI: Ruling AIADMK will mark the 70th birth anniversary of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa by unveiling her full-size statue at the party headquarters here and launching a newspaper in memory of her.
AIADMK's celebrations will begin Saturday morning when party coordinator O. Panneerselvam and joint coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami unveiling the statue that is being installed near the bust of the late leader's mentor M G Ramachandran on the llawn
The bronze statue, which was sculpted in Nellore, was to be installed last year, but the plan was shelved after the then interim general secretary V K Sasikala was jailed in the disproportionate assets (DA) case. The statue will be jointly unveiled by Panneerselvam and Palaniswami, who are running the party affairs after the September 12 General Council meeting nixed the post of general secretary of the AIADMK.
After unveiling the statue, the leaders will launch Namadhu Puratchi Thalaivi Amma — the party's new mouthpiece. Namadhu MGR, which was launched by J Jayalalithaa to air her views following the death of her mentor M G Ramachandran in the late 1980s, went on to become the official propaganda arm of the AIADMK till her death in 2016. Jaya TV, launched in 1999, was also an integral part of Jayalalithaa's publicity arm.
However, both the organisations went to the control of V K Sasikala family after the AIADMK split into two factions - one led by EPS-OPS and the other led by T T V Dhinakaran - leaving the party bereft of any mouthpiece.
The newspaper, which will hit the stands on Saturday, will be edited by party spokesperson Marudhu Azhaguraj, who was removed as editor of Namadhu MGR by the Sasikala family in August last year. Unlike Namadhu MGR, Namadhu Puratchi Thalaivi Amma will be published from major cities in the state. Namadhu MGR is published only from Chennai.
The move to launch the newspaper and a television channel, which is in works, was taken after Namadhu MGR and Jaya TV began blacking out news relating to the AIADMK Government since August 2017.
May be sign of a healthier political trend.
Setting a healthy political trend in Tamil Nadu, where the polity is deeply dominated by personality cult, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Tuesday received Opposition Leader M K Stalin at his chamber in the Secretariat. Stalin was being helpful towards the government to the extent of recommending a slew of steps to resolve the perennial crisis plaguing the transport sector.
Such meetings are rare in Tamil Nadu politics in which the rivalry among the head of the ruling party and those of the main opposition parties would be so intense. In fact, Jayalalithaa and M. Karunanidhi, who alternatively ruled Tamil Nadu for a quarter of a century between 1991 and 2016 after Jaya became CM for the first time, never saw each other eye to eye. This is the first time that Stalin is meeting Palaniswami in his chamber while he has held discussions with the latter's predecessor O Panneerselvam when he was Chief Minister after J Jayalalithaa's death.
Armed with a report prepared by DMK leaders on how to reduce loses and restore the transport department to its old glory, Stalin led a delegation of senior leaders to Palaniswami and submitted the document to him. We will convene another all-party meeting and discuss our next course of action. The Chief Minister received the report, but he did not commit anything, Stalin was to say after the cordial enough meeting.
The DMK Working President has been opposing the recent hike in bus fares by the Tamil Nadu government and had even rallied the entire opposition to protest against the ruling party.
In the report submitted to Palaniswami, the DMK recommended removal of existing taxes on diesel like VAT and levy 10 per cent GST, which will result in an annual savings of Rs 1,600 crore for state-run transport corporations, revenue generation through advertisements and courier services by transport corporations, and attaching buses which ply beyond 200 kms to the State Express Transport Corporations.
The government should also upgrade its luxury buses on par with private bus operators who mint by flaunting their services and allot Rs 1,000 crore every year in the Budget for phasing out of old buses and replacing them with new hi-tech vehicles are some of the other recommendations made in the report.
A five-member panel headed by former Union Surface Transport and Shipping Minister T R Baalu prepared the report. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Stalin indicated that the government was non-committal on implementing recommendations made in his party’s report. The transport corporations suffer loses every day and have debts to the tune of `16,000 crore.
With the window for applying to get the subsidy under ‘Amma two-wheeler’ scheme ending on Monday.
CHENNAI: With the window for applying to get the subsidy under ‘Amma two-wheeler’ scheme ending on Monday, the Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently-Abled and Caregivers has raised a demand to extend the deadline to ensure more disabled women getting the subsidy.
S. Namburajan, state general secretary, Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently-Abled and Caregivers (TARATDAC), said the government has relaxed the norms for applying under the scheme.
“The government has sent letters to district administrations and Chennai Corporation to give temporary relaxation to the disabled women. According to the letter, the disabled women without driving licence can apply”, he said.
He also added that the correspondence was on February 2, three days before the closing. “With the deadline ending on February 5, many women could not able to send their application as weekend holidays fell in between.
The disabled women without driving licence have only a day to make applications.
So the government should extend the deadline by a week”, Namburajan said.
Although the driving licence is not must while applying for the subsidy, the beneficiaries ought to possess their licences while availing their subsidies.
Jayalalithaa did not live to see the second of the twin-shocks, the historic rolling out of the GST from July 1, 2017
CHENNAI: The Economics Nobel laureate Prof. Amartya Sen would hardly approve of the domineering, at times despotic, functional style of Tamil Nadu’s former Chief Minister, J Jayalalithaa. Yet, had she been alive, he would likely give her thoughts on India’s federal structure an empathetic hearing.
For it was Prof. Sen, currently Lamont Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University, who last year during a visit home flagged the issue of States and Chief Ministers re-visiting the federalism debate, when he said that the Central government should have consulted the States prior to demonetisation of high value rupee currencies in 2016 that had a shattering economic impact.
Even if the “shocks” of demonetisation have “largely faded away”, as emphasised in the latest Economic Survey (2017-18), authored by the Finance Ministry team led by Chief Economic Adviser to the Government, Mr. Arvind Subramanian and tabled in Parliament prior to the Finance Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitley presenting the Union Budget 2018-19 last week, the federalism issue has returned centre-stage.
Ms. Jayalalithaa did not live to see the second of the twin-shocks, the historic rolling out of the ‘Goods and Services Tax (GST)’ from July 1, 2017, about which she had some serious reservations. But what she had not failed to register, apart from Tamil Nadu’s then position on the GST, was about some crucial aspects of Centre-State relations at a meeting of the Inter-State Council (ISC) in New Delhi on July 18, 2016, barely two months before she collapsed. Her speech was read out by her then Finance Minister, Mr. O. Pannerselvam, but relevant even today.
The purpose of the ISC, set up when V P Singh was the Prime Minister in 1990, was to facilitate coordination between the States and the Centre on a whole range of Constitutional and administrative issues, and could well be seen as the parent of the present super-body the GST Council, constituted under the GST Law. The ISC, reconstituted last year under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister, has in recent years been deliberating on the recommendations of the seven-volume ‘Punchchi Commission’ on Centre-State relations and this is what makes Ms Jayalalithaa’s possibly last assertive text as Chief Minister politically significant in the larger context of the federalism debate.
“The NDA’s ‘cooperative federalism’ will degenerate into empty rhetoric if the States are not given adequate powers and fiscal resources,” she had cautioned in that ISC speech. She not only pressed for amending Article 356 of the Constitution to “incorporate the safeguards inherent in the Bommai case judgment of the Supreme court” to ensure that the proviso was not arbitrarily used to dismiss elected State governments, but also urged, “preventing adventurism” by Governors.
Equally instructive for Centre-State fiscal relations, Ms. Jayalalithaa, while pleading for decentralisation of authority and resources, said post-liberalisation, as political and economic power has shifted away from the Centre to the States, and state-level parties and leaders being “significant players”, “these should not be seen as centrifugal or fissiparous trends that have to be curbed, but a manifestation of India’s nurturing a Nation with diversity and democracy.”
Hopefully, the ISC would continue to have a supervening role vis-à-vis the entire gamut of Centre-State relations, but the semantic outreach of the latest Economic Survey (ES) suggests the possibility of the new ‘GST Council’ taking away much of the ISC’s elevated sheen. The document says, India has created one of the most important “institutional mechanisms for Cooperative Federalism, the GST Council.”
“At a time when International events have been marked by a retreat into economic nativism, and the attending seizing of control, the Indian States and the Centre have offered up a refreshing counter-narrative, voluntarily choosing to relinquish and then pool sovereignty for a larger collective cause.” The ES even further envisages a larger role for the GST Council as “Cooperative Federalism Technology” – a new coinage-, to tackle a wide array of “difficult structural reforms” that involves the States.
These, according to ES, include a wide range from creating a common agricultural market, fixing the SEBs’, to even solving inter-state water disputes. This new “Technology” of ‘Cooperative Federalism’ could be a tool to “even replace untargeted subsidies (like power and fertilisers in agriculture) by direct income support,” the ES points out. It gives the impression that a fast-tracked ‘GST Council’, would come to be the mainstay in the new redrawing of Centre-State relations wherein the dice is loaded in favour of a strong national government.
While the ‘Aadhar-Jan Dhann-Mobile interface’ and the move towards more digital, cashless transactions is one facet of this new ‘monism’ in the transactional culture emerging alongside the GST regime, its implications for Centre-State relations and the federal principle, traditionally understood as not intruding into the State’s powers in a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic country, are equally large.
More and more centralised decisions, whether it be a one-off act like demonetisation or any other policy pronouncement through the ‘GST Council’, or through the budget, is thus logically bound to marginalise the role of States.
No wonder the first cries of “our state” being ignored by the Central budget has come from the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, N Chandrababu Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister, Amrinder Singh. Ms Jayalalithaa, had she been around, would have expressed the same objections now, as part of revisiting the federalism debate, alluding to the spirit of Prof Amartya Sen’s call following the demonetisation step.
The predicament of the States has been brilliantly summed up by Prof. Harihar Bhattacharya, professor of Political Science, University of Burdwan, West Bengal, in his “Federalism over Democracy in India- Dialectics of Diversity-claims over Equality-claims” thus: “With India’s shift to a free market economy since the early 1990s’, Indian federal democracy is confronting an evolving, but contradictory reality.” Whether economic growth at any cost should get precedence over poverty alleviation will be an alternating dialectic, depending on the pre-election moods. Mr. Jaitley’s latest budget is partly a reflection of that bigger dilemma.
On the Cauvery dispute, Sellur K Raju said the chief minister was taking suitable steps to secure state's water share from K’taka.
Tamil Nadu Minister Sellur K Raju has courted controversy by saying that government welfare measures would be given only to AIADMK card holders, even as Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam said that such schemes were meant for all.
Raju made the statement on Sunday at an event in Madurai to enrol new members and to renew membership of those who had completed five years.
"AIADMK party card is what identifies us and is equal to our life itself.... every party member should have it. All party members should have the card. Only if you have it, can you get government welfare schemes benefits either for you or your family," he had said.
On the vexed Cauvery river water issue, Raju said that the chief minister was taking appropriate steps to secure the state's share of water from Karnataka.
Referring to the local body polls, he said AIADMK is always ready to face any elections.
However, Panneerselvam said that all government welfare measures are aimed at benefiting the ordinary and poor people and all sections of society, irrespective of party affiliations.
He said Karnataka has declined water to Tamil Nadu and that steps were being taken to initiate legal measures to secure water for the state.
"We have a right to seek water for our standing crops," he said
Denies allegations of rise in accidents after operating buses with temporary drivers; accuses unions of misleading people
Transport Minister M.R. Vijayabhaskar on Sunday urged the transport workers to respect the Madras High Court directive and return to work.
Addressing mediapersons here, Mr. Vijayabhaskar said that a number of employees were returning to work after accepting the wage revision offered by the government.
The Minister exuded confidence that bus operations would resume in the State with more employees expected to return to work.
Rebutting allegations about a rise in the frequency of accidents caused by temporary drivers, Mr. Vijayabhaskar said all the drivers hired by the State transport undertakings were qualified for operating the buses. “Retired drivers and those who have experience in driving school buses have been roped in,” he said.
Alleging that the unions were giving misleading information, Mr. Vijayabhaskar said, “Around 32,000 employees have benefited from the wage hike. In addition, we have increased wages by ₹900 for entry level employees,” he informed.
“We will wait for the High Court directive on Monday. The government will take a decision on action against employees later on Monday,” he said.
The unions say they will continue the strike and will justify their stand in the court on Monday.
Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and Transport Minister M.R. Vijayabhaskar on Sunday separately appealed to the striking transport workers to resume duty heeding the Madras High Court’s direction as two persons were killed in separate accidents involving buses reportedly driven by drivers hired on a casual basis in Cuddalore and Chennai districts.
However, the unions said they would continue the strike and justify their stand in the court on Monday.
In Virudhachalam, a temporary driver J. Elumalai, who was driving a bus from the TNSTC depot, rammed a motorcycle being driven by Seon Kumar, 37, with two pillion riders. Seon succumbed to injuries following which the police arrested Mr. Elumalai.
In Chennai, an 18-year-old youth — Joseph alias Ajit of Dooming Kuppam — was run over by an MTC bus when his bike skidded on the Santhome High Road. While it was claimed that the bus driver was hired on an ad hoc basis, the police did not confirm the same.
Meanwhile, ruling out further talks with the unions, Mr. Vijayabhaskar accused them, including the CITU, of misleading workers on the actual wage revision. Releasing the break-up of the revised wages that the government was willing to pay, he told journalists: “If all the workers come to know about these figures, they will return to work.”
No legal hurdles in converting Jayalalithaa’s house into memorial: Chennai Collector
The Collector says that acquisition of Veda Nilayam to convert it into a memorial is a government directive, and it will be followed.
Despite pending cases in court against the conversion of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's residence into a memorial, the district administration is unperturbed. Speaking to TNM, Chennai Collector V Anbuselvan says that there are absolutely no legal hurdles to the acquisition of the land and that the process will be completed by April.
The Collector says that acquisition of Veda Nilayam to convert it into a memorial is a government directive and it will be followed.
The government had proposed this in August 2017. However, Jayalalithaa's niece J Deepa had moved the High Court, which disposed the plea in October 2017 and directed the state government to take a decision on her representation in four months. In addition to this. Traffic Ramaswamy, a social activist has moved court seeking that public funds not be used for the acquisition.
"Yes, he has filed a case asking that public funds not be used as the Chief Minister was convicted," admits the Collector. "However the High Court has not given a directive on the matter and so we will proceed with our work," he adds.
The District authority explains that the due process under the Land Acquisition Act, including social impact assessment, would be carried out for Veda Nilayam. As far as the matter of legal heir is concerned, he says, "The former CM has not named any legal heir and so as far as claimants are concerned, they will be paid compensation as per the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act. But there is no stopping the process of acquisition now because it is a government decision."
The land has been measured for their records but there were hurdles in the form of income tax raids, admits the Collector. Two rooms in Poes Garden were initially unmeasured because they were sealed by the Income Tax department. "But the IT department later cooperated with us and we managed to measure those rooms as well. All processes are on track."
According to sources, Elangovan a resident of Ganapathy-Maniyakarampalayam has filed a petition against Kamal Hassan.
Coimbatore: A supporter of rebel AIADMK leader, TTV Dhinakaran has moved a Coimbatore court against actor Kamal Hassan for his controversial remarks on the recently concluded R.K.Nagar bypolls to the State Assembly.
According to sources, Elangovan a resident of Ganapathy-Maniyakarampalayam has filed a petition against Kamal Hassan, in which he had reportedly mentioned that the actor had said in a recent interview to a Tamil magazine voters had begged from a thief to poll their valuable votes for TTV Dinakaran in the recent Assembly byelection held for R.K. Nagar constituency.
An AIADMK office bearer has lodged a complaint with the CoP, seeking changes in the lyrics, which he deems offensive.
Following the widespread furore over inclusion of GST-related dialogues in the Vijay starrer Mersal, yet another film has got mired in controversy.
The song Sodakku mela Sodakku, from Suriya's upcoming film, Thaanaa Serndhan Koottam, composed by Anirudh Ravichander, is in trouble. An AIADMK office bearer Sathish Kumar, has lodged a complaint with the Commissioner of Police seeking changes in the lyrics, which he claims are offensive and anti-political.
Talking about the issue, RJ Balaji who is also a part of the star cast tweeted saying:
"Respected Media partner, Thanks but no thanks.TSK has marketing budget for the promotions. But thre are too many issues out thre. People are unable to commute. Kindly do something about it. Instead of doing this, ask ur partymen to at least offer lift to people who r stranded."
Directed by Vignesh Shivan, the movie is a remake of Bollywood hit Special 26, which had Akshay Kumar and Kajal Agarwal in the lead roles and is set against the backdrop of incidents that happened in the late 1980s.
Unlike his Singam avatar where he sported a handlebar moustache, Suriya will be seen in a clean-shaven look in Thaana Serntha Kootam. He will be seen in two different looks in the film, where he has decided to try his hands at comedy after a long time and this shift from regular action films might work in his favour.
The film boasts an ensemble cast of actors, including Keerthy Suresh, Ramya Krishnan, Karthik, Senthil, Sathyan, Kalaiyarasan and choreographer Shivashankar, playing pivotal characters.
After being on the floors for nearly a year, the film is scheduled for a Pongal. It’ll be an interesting box-office battle as the film will take Vikram’s Sketch and Prabhudheva’s Gulebakavali along with four other films head-on at the box-office for the festive occasion. The film’s dubbed version in Telugu, will have a simultaneous release.
Music for the film has been scored by Anirudh Ravichander and it is bankrolled by Studio Green production banner, on a budget of Rs. 90 crores.
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