This is in addition to the construction of a “grand memorial” at Jayalalithaa’s burial site at the famous Marina beach here, at a cost of Rs 50.80 cr.
Chennai: Tamil Nadu government on Thursday allotted 20 crore to convert ‘Veda Nilayam’, where late chief minister J. Jayalalithaa lived for nearly five decades, into a memorial. The decision to convert the bungalow, bought by Jayalalithaa’s mother Sandhya in the 1960s, was taken in August as part of measures to enable the merger of EPS and OPS factions of the AIADMK.
In his budget speech, Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam announced that Rs 20 crore has been allotted for the purpose. This was in addition to the construction of a “grand memorial” at Jayalalithaa’s burial site at the famous Marina beach here, at a cost of Rs 50.80 crore, Pannerselvam said in his budget speech in the assembly.
Officials recently commenced preliminary work on the proposed conversion of Jayalalithaa’s residence in Poes Garden locality here into a memorial. Jayalalithaa died on December 5, 2016.
Panneerselvam also said a grand function would be held here marking the culmination of birth centenary celebrations of AIADMK founder and late Chief Minister M. G. Ramachandran, popularly known as MGR.
The celebrations began in January last and the government had been holding events in all 30 districts across the state.
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.
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.
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."
The election officials have also earmarked 19 locations for accommodating police personnel and paramilitary personnel.
Chennai: Public and builders planning to visit the corporation zone offices for building assessment and other trade licences would do well to wait until December 24 for revenue officials to return from RK Nagar poll duty. As part of its election work, the city corporation has, for the first time, posted all its revenue officials in Chennai to RK Nagar.
“Each assistant revenue official (ARO) has been given 15 polling booths to supervise. Earlier a team of licence surveyors and tax collectors, who are subordinates to AROs, were deployed for the purpose, but now seniors are deployed to ensure that a fool proof polling system is in place”, an ARO said.
One of the election officials said that a total of 300 EVMs have been kept in the strong room after verification by senior poll officials for the 256 polling booths.
For each control unit, 4 ballot units would be attached. In all, 1,200 ballot units are to be used and the role of ARO starts from supervising the polling stations and to ensure free fair and fair polls on December 21, the official said.
The EVMs would be checked and verified again in front of the poll observers and the functions of polling machines would be explained to representatives of candidates before transporting them to polling booths.
Meanwhile, the election department has finished training 1,800 staff, including presiding officers and booth level officers. “Nearly 3,000 officials are being employed in conducting the by-election”, the official said.
To ensure peaceful and fair election, the election department, apart from cameras and web screening in polling booths, has installed nearly 300 CCTV cameras in important junctions and streets, an all time high for an assembly constituency.
The election officials have also earmarked 19 locations for accommodating police personnel and paramilitary personnel. “Nearly 1,500 local police and 20 companies of paramilitary companies, each consisting of 80 to 100 personnel will be deployed in RK Nagar. The paramilitary forces started arriving in the constituency”, the official added.
Sources in the government confirmed that they have received the letter from the commission and it is under consideration.
Chennai: Justice A. Arumughaswamy Commission going into the the “circumstances and situation” leading to hospitalisation of former Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and her “unfortunate demise” has sought six-month extension to complete its probe. In a letter to the public secretary, the Arumughaswamy Commission, whose three-month tenure ends on December 24, has said that it has been able to investigate only 6 of the total 60 people issued summons regarding Jayalalithaa’s hospitalisation and death.
“We have sought extension of six months since more than 50 people are to be questioned and CCTV footage in Apollo Hospitals and Poes Garden will have to be examined. Also, Justice Arumughaswamy plans to visit Poes Garden,” sources in the Commission told Deccan Chronicle. Sources in the government confirmed that they have received the letter from the commission and it is under consideration.
“Most likely, extension will be granted since the government is very clear on bringing out the truth in Jayalalithaa's death,” a senior official said.
DMK's Saravanan, Madhavan, husband of J Jayalalithaa's niece Deepa Jayakumar, P Balaji, who obtained the fingerprint of the late chief minister during her stay at Apollo Hospitals, have testified before the commission after having been summoned.
The commission has been mandated to inquire into the “circumstances and situation leading to the hospitalisation of the late Hon'ble Chief Minister on September 22, 2016 and subsequent treatment provided till her unfortunate demise on December 5, 2016.” While making the announcement about the commission on August 16, Palaniswami said the commission was appointed as there were representations from several organisations seeking an inquiry into her death.
RK Nagar bypoll: Returning Officer removed after actor Vishal's disqualification row
K Velusamy, who was the Returning Officer of the RK Nagar assembly seat, has been replaced by Praveen P Nair.
Chennai: The Returning Officer (RO) of the RK Nagar constituency was on Saturday replaced by the Election Commission in an unusual move following controversy over actor Vishal's rejection of nomination papers.
K Velusamy, who was the Returning Officer of the RK Nagar assembly seat, has been replaced by Praveen P Nair.
Actor Vishal's last-ditch efforts to enter the high-stakes electoral contest in RK Nagar fell flat on Thursday after he failed to "locate" the two proposers, who had alleged that their signatures were forged, and produce them before Velusamy.
Vishal, whose nomination papers were rejected on Tuesday night, tweeted on Thursday morning citing "media reports" that the Election Commission has asked him to approach the returning officer and produce the two people if his nomination has to be accepted, in reply to a complaint sent by him.
Rushing from his Anna Nagar residence to RK Nagar, Vishal claimed he was unable to locate Sumathy and Deepan, who had reportedly told Velusamy that their signatures on the nomination papers of Vishal were forged, and alleged that they were "missing."
Later, he held discussions with Velusamy at his office in Tondiarpet during which the returning officer is understood to have told him that the duo will have to be produced if his nomination papers will have to be accepted.
After heated arguments and storming out of his office, Vishal alleged that the RO told him that he "accepted my nomination only because I threatened."
Earlier, Jayalalithaa's niece, Deepa Jayakumar, whose papers were also rejected, alleged foul play and intimidation by the ruling AIADMK.
"There was foul play; my nomination papers were tampered with. I did not fill the column on asset value in the affidavit because some of them are joint properties," she had said.
Bypoll for the RK Nagar constituency was necessary after the seat fell vacant following the death of former chief minister J Jayalithaa in December last year.
THE PARTY NEITHER WENT TO TOWN ON JAYALALITHAA AND SASIKALA’S CONVICTION IN THE DA CASE, NOR DID THEY CAPITALISE THEIR POSITION IN THE STATE ASSEMBLY.
It was a hot April afternoon, only five months after J Jayalalithaa had passed away. Political tensions were running high and all eyes were on the DMK as a fractured AIADMK continued to make a spectacle of itself. Allegations of corruption following the RK Nagar election had soured the party’s image further in the public's eyes, and the time couldn’t have been more ripe for the DMK to strike.
Taking to the dias, at DMK leader Arcot Veerasamy's birthday celebrations, 64-year-old MK Stalin looked emotional as he said, "If party President M Karunanidhi was active today, there would have been several political changes."
It was a thought running through the mind of the populace, but for the DMK to admit it at a public event shows how clueless the leadership is, say experts.
"For the party's working president to say this on record, shows that they are largely clueless about how to get rid of the present dispensation," says RK Radhakrishnan, a political analyst. "The AIADMK lacks public support and suffers from poor image after Jayalalithaa's death but the DMK has failed to fill this power vacuum," he adds.
What did they do wrong?
Tamil Nadu stood still in shock on December 5, 2016 as news of J Jayalalithaa's death made the rounds. The DMK, which had an acrimonious relationship with the Chief Minister, however, took a step back.
To its credit, the party set politics aside and its President said, "I offer deep condolences on the passing away of Jayalalithaa, wishes of lakhs of her followers will make her immortal."
But the problem was, it failed to move forward after that.
The DA case
Karunanidhi was confined to the bed due to illness following Jayalalithaa's death and unfortunately for the party, his words came true. Jayalalithaa's image did not suffer, despite a conviction in the Disproportionate Assets case, and their efforts to not draw her into the matter or politicise the issue, proved to be costly.
"The reason to not bring up Jayalalithaa's conviction was wise. But in this effort, the DMK completely let go of a crucial victory. The reason she and Sasikala were convicted is because of the DMK's efforts and persistence in court, " reminds Gnani Sankaran, a political commentator.
"They should have immediately used this to question Sasikala and the entire AIADMK after she was convicted. Their corruption must have been pointed out," he adds.
And how could they have made their presence felt?
The answer comes from a leader of the Sasikala faction itself. "If the DMK had held a state wide rally against the AIADMK and say, had one lakh people arrested, that would have left a mark in public memory," he says.
'Set fire to the Assembly'
M Karunanidhi was known for his rousing speeches in the state Assembly and at rallies, that caught the imagination of people.
"Stalin should have used the opportunities he got in Assembly to get people to take notice of the DMK's politics. Simply walking out is not a solution," says Gnani. "They should have used that platform to attack Sasikala, EPS and OPS but they didn't. Instead their campaign was too generic and gave a sense of uncertainty," he explains.
The DMK, however, disagrees with the view. "We have directly gone to the people, interacted with them and exposed the government's failures," states DMK leader TKS Elangovan, "We are conducting agitations everywhere and addressing all major issues that come up," he adds.
What about the DA case?
"Our stand in the matter is vindicated. What else is required of us?" he asks.
Experts however disagree with the view.
"Even now, Stalin does not speak about Sasikala. He does not question the corruption that is rampant in the government strongly," says Gnani.
The leader from the Sasikala faction points out that the DMK has bureaucrats loyal to them in every department of the government. If need be, they can easily find how the government is looting money and trace the funds being siphoned off. "What are they scared of?" he asks.
Is the DMK kept in line by the BJP?
It is an open secret that the BJP is attempting a backdoor entry into Tamil Nadu, by using its influence over the current dispensation.
The multiple Income tax raids, odd behaviour of Governors in the state and the delay in crucial verdicts following Jayalalithaa's death, all point to a pattern of control from the Centre, opine experts. But is the DMK too holding back in fear of retaliation from the Centre?
"The 2G case is crucial for the DMK. If their leaders are convicted, the party's image will take a huge beating. That could be holding them back," says the former AIADMK leader.
But experts claim, that even a verdict convicting Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi will only benefit Stalin. "That would make the path clear for him. Nobody else can challenge his post," says Radhakrishnan. "Yes, if Raja is convicted they would have to answer the public, but they must have a strategy ready if and when that happens," he adds.
The DMK which has been witnessing the Income Tax department's escalated activity this last year against members of the Sasikala faction, remained muted in its response. "We are not afraid of the I-T or ED," says TKS Elangovan. "Yes, the BJP is protecting the minority government in power from collapsing. So, only an election will show how popular the DMK has now become," he adds.
The RK Nagar bye-poll
The DMK has, for the second time, fielded Marudhu Ganesh as its candidate for the RK Nagar bye-poll – a decision that has been questioned due to the candidate's lack of prominence within the party.
"He is a resident of RK Nagar and his mother was a councillor. She was highly respected in the area. The family has traditionally been supporters of the DMK," explains TKS Elangovan.
But what should have been a sure shot victory for the party, still remains a multi pronged contest with no clear victor as yet.
The DMK leader admits that the bye-poll is crucial in the current political landscape, but explains that the party has also approached the judiciary in its efforts to derail the 'minority government'.
"The court is yet to give two orders – one on the wrong disqualification of 18 MLAs from the Sasikala faction, and the other on 11 MLAs of the former OPS faction who should have been dismissed," explains TKS Elangovan. "Since the Governor remains silent, this order will help prove that this is a minority government," he adds.
The trial for the case ,which was filed in September, however is still underway with even the Speaker yet to complete his argument in court.
"A legal battle is going to be long drawn out and only the semantics it creates initially has any political impact," says Radhakrishnan. "As the case pulls on, its political significance will be lost. In its current state of confusion, the DMK is unable to capitalise on this current political turmoil," he adds.
Jayalalithaa breathed her last on December 5 last year after 75 days of hospitalisation.
Chennai: Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was on Tuesday remembered on her first death anniversary, with AIADMK veterans K Palanisamy and O Panneerselvam leading the party supporters in paying tributes to their 'Amma.'
Jayalalithaa is fondly addressed as 'Amma,' meaning mother in Tamil, by her supporters.
AIADMK Coordinator and Deputy Chief Minister, O Panneerselvam and party Co-Coordinator and Chief Minister, K Palanisamy led a silent procession of party workers from Anna Salai to Jayalalithaa's mausoleum on Marina beach in Chennai.
Most of the party workers, including the two leaders and many other ministers, were clad in black shirts.
Scores of party supporters also turned up at the mausoleum to pay tributes to her.
Jayalalithaa, admitted to a corporate hospital in Chennai in September 2016, breathed her last this day last year, after 75 days of hospitalisation.
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