The multi-crore advertisement blitzkrieg showing a beaming J Jayalalithaa on the pages of newspapers across the country drives the intended message home she is the supreme benevolent being.
While she has rolled out the sops promised during her campaign,Jaya has marked her third stint at power with the reversal of decisions taken by the previous DMK regime,strong police crackdowns on criminal elements and political rivals,and a number of decisions that have not gone down well with the public.
Having overthrown the DMK,whose rule had been marked with scandals,nepotism and corruption,she began with vindictiveness against her arch rivals. She abandoned the new Assembly-Secretariat complex the DMK had built and went back to the old complex at Fort St George. When the government announced the complex would be converted into a super specialty hospital,it was welcomed by the public,though similar plans for Anna Centenary Library faced resistance as it involved dismantling one of the best equipped public libraries in the country.
Another early measure was setting up a new police wing to deal exclusively with land-grab cases. Land had become one of the most valued commodities,something for which the defenceless were harassed by those with political connections. Within months,the number of cases had run into thousands,with land worth hundreds of crores of rupees retrieved from the mafia. Those who faced action included senior DMK leaders,some of them former ministers.
But empowerment of the police,always the hallmark of Jayas rule,had its flip side too. At Paramakudi in November,police opened fire at protesting Dalits,leading to five deaths. Fact-finding missions held that the bloodshed could have been avoided had the police acted in time instead of waiting till the tension built up.
The police encounter in Chennai that left five suspected bank robbers dead,too,has been the subject of debate and criticism.
When the government decided to discard the Uniform System of School Education introduced by the DMK,it was abrupt and came when the new academic year was just starting. As a result,thousands of students went to school without a book or a syllabus,while texts already printed gathered dust in government depots. Parts of the books were eventually censored.
The summary dismissal of nearly 13,000 welfare workers appointed by the DMK was in keeping with what has been routine for the past two decades,depending on who is in power.
One unpopular decision was a sudden hike in bus fares and the milk price and later electricity tariff. The tariff hike and power cuts have led to public displeasure,though it is never easy to deal with the massive shortage without such an impact.
Though her turnaround on protests against the Koodankulam nuclear project was widely described as a stunning reversal of stand,what was actually surprising was her initial backing. She had asserted that power from the plant was vital before offering her support for the protests. Even leaders of the protest admitted in private they had been surprised by the support she had extended,and that they had never expected it to continue.
Yet another development that captured public attention was the expulsion of her controversial close aide V K Sasikala and her family members from the inner circle and party itself. There were many inside and outside the AIADMK who rejoiced at this,though it was shortlived as Sasikala was rehabilitated.
Positives in the last one year include increased assistance to the needy in various forms including enhanced food supply through PDS,financial assistance for various needs,and better healthcare support.
With the ruling party commanding a brutal majority,and with a fractured Opposition that has so far failed to rein in the rulers,it was left to the judiciary to play referee through
interventions in some cases.