Across the aisle: ‘Shall not let anyone eat’

The popular belief is that the BJP is pulling the strings that hold the four factions (of the AIADMK). It could be part of the BJP’s political strategy to carve out a space for itself in Tamil Nadu politics.

Written by P Chidambaram | Published: July 9, 2017 1:56 am
Tamil Nadu BJP, AIADMK BJP, AIADMK factions, Modi Jayalalithaa, Jayalalithaa death, AIADMK Split, Indian express, India news, P Chidambaram What’s BJP’s game in Tamil Nadu? Narendra Modi (L) and J Jayalalithaa (R)

The late chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa (or Amma), ruled with an iron hand. Under her, corruption flourished, but there was a functioning government too. Jayalalithaa has passed on (may her soul rest in peace) and it is no longer relevant to dwell upon that chapter in the history of Tamil Nadu. The important question now is, whither Tamil Nadu?

Jayalalithaa left behind a party and government that commanded the support of 135 members in a Legislative Assembly of 234 members, but she did not leave behind a designated successor. Perhaps she thought she would recover from her illness; perhaps she thought she had given enough indication that Mr O Panneerselvam (her nominee on two earlier occasions) would be her successor; or perhaps she did not care what happened after her. However, two things were abundantly clear: (1) She did not give the slightest hint that Ms Sasikala would be her successor and (2) She did not re-admit into the party Ms Sasikala’s close relatives whom she had expelled in 2011.

The Coup and Consequences

Nevertheless, after Jayalalithaa passed on, Ms Sasikala staged a coup of sorts. She succeeded in first getting ‘elected’ as the general secretary of the party and then as leader of the legislature party. Just when she was poised to become chief minister, the judgment of the Supreme Court scuppered her ambitions. She hurriedly expelled Mr Panneerselvam and got the legislators to elect Mr E Palaniswami as leader. The Governor had no choice but to swear in Mr Palaniswami as Chief Minister.

Inevitably, the AIADMK party split. To start with, there were two factions, but it is now apparent that there are three, if not four, factions. Despite the party’s split, the government continues as if nothing had happened! The budget session is underway, but no one has called for a vote on any demand for grant or on any Bill, and no one has moved a motion of no-confidence! That is a modern-day miracle produced by the survival instincts of the legislators!

The popular belief is that the BJP is the puppeteer and is pulling the strings that hold the four factions. It could be part of the BJP’s political strategy to carve out a space for itself in Tamil Nadu politics. It could be a tactical manoeuvre to garner the maximum number of votes for the election of the president and the vice-president. But if it is a long-term plan to win the AIADMK (or a major faction of the party) as an ally before forcing a mid-term poll in Tamil Nadu, then, serious questions will be raised.

Today, the AIADMK party and the government are leaderless. Cases of corruption are exposed every day, but no one in the ruling faction of the AIADMK seems to care, smug in the belief that all factions of the AIADMK are in the clutches of the BJP-RSS, and nothing will be allowed that may lead to the defeat of the government.

Corruption cases

After Jayalalithaa’s demise, the following major cases of corruption have been unearthed in Tamil Nadu:

Income-tax searches on a mining group that started on December 8, 2016, led to the seizure of Rs 135 crore and 177 kg of gold. The trail led to the office and residence of the Chief Secretary, who was replaced.

On April 4, 2017, income-tax officials searched the residence of the Minister of Health and claimed to have recovered documents, including a statement of money given to the Chief Minister and six ministers for distribution to voters in the by-election in the R K Nagar constituency.

The by-election in R K Nagar constituency was cancelled because the Election Commission (EC) found evidence of large-scale distribution of money to voters. On April 18, 2017, the EC directed registration of cases against the Chief Minister and six ministers and their candidate.

Two weeks ago, an investigative report in a newspaper revealed that a search had been conducted on July 8, 2016, on the premises of a gutka manufacturer and evidence of payments to a minister and senior police officials had been reportedly found. A report had been sent to the government soon afterward but no action was taken.

Administrative corruption is rampant. There is a rate card in Tamil Nadu — a kind of menu of services and prices! A service can be obtained at the listed price. Under the current government, the system has been decentralised. Each MLA of the ruling faction is the virtual chief (minister) of his/her constituency; each minister is the virtual chief (minister) of his/her district.

What’s BJP’s game?

Meanwhile, the finances of the government are spinning out of control. The total debt at the end of 2017-18 will be
Rs 3,14,366 crore, which will be twice as much as the revenue projected at Rs 1,59,363 crore. The state took over the loan of Rs 22,815 crore of the power generation and distribution company (TANGEDCO) that caused the fiscal deficit to soar to a high of 4.58 per cent in 2016-17. The Debt to GSDP ratio has risen to 20.9 per cent. Capital expenditure, as a proportion of total expenditure, has declined in Heath & Family Welfare and in water supply, sanitation and urban development.

The government leaders in Tamil Nadu are ‘eating’ every day at every opportunity. The misgovernance is eating into the vitals of the state’s economy. The Prime Minister said that he would not allow any one to ‘eat’: his words were ‘na khane doonga’. Pray, then, will the BJP explain why it is breaking bread with such a party and government?

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  1. Simon John
    Jul 28, 2017 at 4:16 pm
    Modi has called Jaylalitha his friend and says he misses her- there is a saying that tell me who your friend is and I will tell you you are- Logic simple Modi is not only corrupt but a dictator like Jaylalitha, People have faith in him because of some communalised people of this diverse country.
    1. S
      Jul 20, 2017 at 9:36 am
      Chidambram is a comedian at best. He has no political insight, and was part of massive corruption scandals. Perhaps that gives him the insight into the current state. On his own he can't win a dog catchers election. Tamilnadu had AIDMK or DMK governments for years. Chidu's allies were DMK. Did he not see the corruption then!
      1. sollu nallaa
        Jul 15, 2017 at 8:30 am
        Mr Chidambaram , Rajiv Gandhi made a statement out of Rs 100 taxes in welfare schemes only Rs 15 are utilised to the beneficiaries. What you and MMS did borrow Rs 200 for Rs 100 tax collection spent all the Rs 300 on government servants by granting pay commission 6,7 and on. The vote bank politics of you was 10 government servants votes, 15 muslims votes, 10 perverts who do not like the other side, rest few percentage you bought with looted money. Jaya gave away 100 units free because the criminals you appointed as electricity regulatory authorities were not allowing the electricity tariff to be reduced despite fall in coal, gas prices. These criminals are in cahoots with you to rob people.
        1. Raman Govindan
          Jul 11, 2017 at 4:43 pm
          Indira gandhi also did it early and divided the TN Congrees into two factions. one headed by Kamaraj and the other by other leaders who differed with him and saw some prospects by staying with her. she took the opportunity of of loss in the election of Kamaraj. he did not ferociously oppose the Hindi as official language of India as the DMK did. when Shastry introduced cons utional amendment bill in parliament in 1965. all his great deeds were forgotten and he was defeated only on that score. . he was a nationalist and a true supporter of Pundit Nehru! That undid him! she again partnered DMK or AIADMK to suit her winning prospects. then the congress was the puppeteer and was pulling the strings that created rift among the two by giving importance to few leaders of congress/DMK/or AIADMK at national level. the story continues.
          1. V
            VS Tewatia
            Jul 10, 2017 at 6:05 pm
            AIADMK is regional party with strong local sentiments. . If that heppens the future of this party is doomed.This will help DMK tremendously and to some extent even Congress. Even otherwise this party is on the verge of disintegration.
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