Advertisement
Wednesday, Oct 05, 2022
Outlook.com
Outlook.com
State Snippets

Chennai Corner

One more object entered the missile-arsenal used by people’s representatives: An AIADMK councillor flung a bonda at DMK members who were staging a walkout saying the budget was pedestrian.

Chennai Corner
Chennai Corner
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

I’ll Light Up Your Life

CM Jayalalitha, aware there is widespread anger over the load shedding in the state, made a promise while campaigning in Shankarankoil which goes to polls on March 18. She promised that by June (when summer is abating and the need for power goes down) this year she would “light up” TN. While blaming the DMK for the crisis, she said that 1,950 MW of electricity would be generated through fast track projects with 600 MW being added in June. “I assure you that from June the power cuts will be reduced gradually.” People in that assembly constituency might believe her because from eight hours of no power, they are “powerless” for three hours thanks to the impending byelection

Power minister Natham R Vishwanathan seems to be unaware of the CM’s promise, because he has changed the goal posts on solving the power crisis in the state. While Jayalalitha had claimed, on taking over last year, that load shedding would go after August 2012 – a claim that her predecessor M Karunanidhi sniggered at – Vishwanathan now says that, “By 2013-2014, load shedding will be stopped completely and by 2014-2015, we will be a power surplus state.” Many can be forgiven for wondering how he could come to that conclusion because while TN is reeling under a power crisis, its Power Minister is away in Shankarankoil working for the AIADMK candidate S Muthuselvi.

From CM To PM, Again

Natham says loftily, “The government is taking necessary steps to mitigate the power problem.” But the question is what? Because it was the CM who wrote a tersely worded letter to PM Manmohan Singh last Friday seeking his intervention to get an additional 1000 MW of power saying “corridor congestion” has exacerbated the crisis in the state. Pointing out that major power projects being executed by PSUs are getting inordinately delayed, Jayalalitha pointed out that the centre had allotted only 100 MW of the 1000 MW sought by the state to tide over the power shortage.

She did not mention the controversy-ridden Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant because her government which met last week to decide its stand put off the decision. With nearby Shankarankoil going to polls soon, she preferred to postpone the decision rather than energise the protestors there who have agitating since last September . She is between a rock and a hard place with Karunanidhi goading her twice recently to start the KKNPP.

Interestingly the panel she appointed to study the plant’s safety has given her the green signal. Anti-nuclear activists led by K P Udaykumar have decided to show Karunanidhi black flags when he goes to campaign for Shankarankoil. Although Udaykumar has cleverly driven a further wedge between Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi by saying the latter was responsible for the crisis in the state. By implication he hopes that she would take the side of anti-nuclear activists. But the postponement of her decision indicates that her vote is for KKNPP starting.

AWOL Ministers

At a yoga class in a park at Annanagar, it was noticed that the lights had not gone off even though it was 7 am. Sniggered a senior citizen, “I think the man in charge of switching off the lights has gone to Shankarankoil.” Powerless, people are beginning to make jokes about how all of the AIADMK minister are away at the constituency because the focus is on their party candidate winning!

A New Formula

Union Minister M.K. Azhagiri, who is believed to have patented the Tirumangalam formula (Rs 5000 for every vote) may lose his dubious reputation. The bypolls in the Shankarankoil assembly constituency is believed to have spawned its own formula for the ruling party, thereby winking at the Election Commission which has seized Rs 40 lakh, 200 gifts and over 2,500 saris and dhotis.

The name of the game – to pull the wool over EC’s eyes – is for ruling party members to pick a room/a house, air-condition it and then rent it at exorbitant prices (Rs 20,000 to Rs 1 lakh). The deal is to leave the ACs behind. It’s a more ingenious than paying for the recharge of mobile phones, much in vogue during last year’s assembly elections.

That’s probably why Vijayakant seems to be conceding defeat already although he was all fire and brimstone when he was challenged to win the seat on his own by CM Jayalalitha on February 1 in the assembly – in fact that was the raging debate that had led to his suspension and breaking of the AIADMK-DMDK alliance. Campaigning in Shankarankoil on Sunday, he said that “electoral defeat was not new to him.”

God Helps Those...

It’s a demand and supply situation and the people of Shakarankoil are not averse to extracting their pound of flesh knowing that no politician is going to help better their lives. In the true spirit of God helps those who help themselves, the price of eatables have been hiked by 50 per cent. “Since the visitors are not bothered about money, 50 per cent hike has been effected on the prices of all eatables. We expect them to come down after March 18,” said K. Ganesh, owner of a sweet stall.

House owners are demanding a rent anywhere of Rs.8,000- Rs.10,000 for just 20 days, while political leaders made a beeline for any accommodation as Shakarankoil has no lodges or hotels to speak of in this reserved constituency. The motto is: take what you can get. So a minister constructed a toilet and a bathroom while renting a place. Another one admitted, “When we approached a person owning a 3 bedroom house in NGO Colony, he demanded Rs.1 lakh for just 25 days. Finally, he agreed to Rs.75,000 but asked us to fit air-conditioners after securing 3-phase power connection, with all costs borne by us.”

The only condition is that occupants should leave the ACs fitted in the house for the comfort of the VIP when he leaves the house on March 16. And leave all outsiders have to. Says Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar, “Marriage and community halls, lodges and guest houses will be checked to ensure outsiders leave before polling day.”

Vaiko is Back

While Vaiko of the MDMK has barely been heard of – except when he wants to issue a pro-Tamil statement – since he boycotted the last Assembly election after he fell-out with Jayalalitha during seat-sharing talks, he is making his presence felt by fielding a candidate (T Sadan Thirumalaikumar) this time. The buzz is that amma has propped him up with the right kind of enticement because while the MDMK barely counts elsewhere in TN, in Shankarankoil it has a following. As it is with Viajaykant ranged against the AIADMK, chances are that this “karupu MGR” could split AIADMK votes. So in order to ensure a level playing field, nothing like propping up the MDMK to queer the DMK’s pitch.

Campaigning in 25 villages of the constituency last week, Vaiko said, “Tamil Nadu, which has been inundated by liquor, freebies and finally, utter darkness, should come out of these evils by casting their vote in favour of MDMK.” Reminding people about his party’s campaign against the execution of three death row convicted in the assassination of former PM Rajiv Gandhi, he said, “We, who are the only political party fighting for the cause of Tamils, seek your support in the Sankarankovil by-poll, ask you to elect our candidate to air all your genuine grievances in the right forum for appropriate redressal,” Vaiko added.

Enter the 'Bonda'

One has heard of chairs being thrown, missiles being flung, papers being shredded, mikes being broken, even porn being watched, unparliamentary language being used, and gesticulations being made in Parliament and assemblies. But this week, when councillors convened for the budget session of the Chennai Corporation at the historic Rippon Building, one more object entered the missile-arsenal used by people’s representatives. An AIADMK councillor flung a bonda at DMK members who were staging a walkout saying the budget was pedestrian. How the bonda came into the house is anybody’s guess. Small comfort that the member was eating a bonda and not watching porn.

The AIADMK member seems to have forgotten his own party’s justification in the Madras high court last week for suspending DMDK chief Vijayakant on February1 during the last session of the assembly. Vijayakant has gone to court challenging the decision to suspend him for 10 days as being illegal. Assembly secretary AMP Jamalaludeen’s counter-affidavit last week said, that during a debate, Vijayakant had “raised his hands and pointing towards the ruling party members, rolled his tongue, thus creating a surcharged atmosphere in the House.”

Zero Hour, Size Zero

Speaking of bonda, if the member was in the TN legislative assembly, he would not have that particular savoury to throw because oily bajjis, vadas, pooris even pongal is not on the menu there because MLAs are getting conscious about low-calorie diets. Days after CM Jayalalitha inaugurated a gym exclusively for woman legislators (there’s already a gym for male MLAs), the menu had a makeover. Vegetable sandwiches, boiled green gram (the celebrity diet guru Rujuta Diwekar would approve) and sugarless coffee and tea are in.

“There is no demand even for idlis even though they are healthy,” according to an employee of the Tamil Nadu state cooperative canteen near the assembly hall. He says that most MLAs who head to the canteen between sessions and after question hour prefer sandwiches or the boiled gram. “We sell about 60 sandwiches and 100 plates of baked gram every day,” he said.

Most young MLAs go to the gym regularly. Says the youngest MLA in assembly, A Ganesh Kumar(28) of the PMK, “I need to stay fit so that I have the energy to travel because I go to my constituency (Gingee in Villipuram district) often to meet my people.” Aruppukottai AIADMK MLA, Vaigai Chelvan, a first timer in the assembly says he knocked off 10 kg from his ample frame after modifying his diet. “I travel a lot within my constituency. I cannot afford to put on weight. It will make me lazy,” he said. Even older members like AIADMK’s Chennai Harbour MLA Pazha Karuppiah(65) says he prefers a low calorie diet.

Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Read More from Outlook

Lament Of Separation: Songs Of Habba Khatun, Last Queen Of Kashmir, Still Echo In Valley

Lament Of Separation: Songs Of Habba Khatun, Last Queen Of Kashmir, Still Echo In Valley

In happy times and sad, Habba Khatun’s sensuous songs make both young and old emotional. With the never-ending conflict bringing tragedies to every doorstep, Habba’s lyrics of separation amplify their mourning.

How Indian Laws Govern People’s Right To Love And Live

How Indian Laws Govern People’s Right To Love And Live

In India, only those relationships between a man and a woman are considered to be legitimate when there is a marriage between the two.

Kohli Quits Test Captaincy, Leaves Leadership Vacuum

Kohli Quits Test Captaincy, Leaves Leadership Vacuum

Virat Kohli, 33, had recently stepped down as India's T20I captain and was subsequently removed as the ODI captain.

UP Elections 2022: How Congress Is Harnessing Power Of 'Persecuted' Women To Counter BJP

UP Elections 2022: How Congress Is Harnessing Power Of 'Persecuted' Women To Counter BJP

A Mahila Congress leader, who is the face of the ‘Ladki Hoon, Lad Sakti Hoon’ campaign, however, has accused the party of anti-women bias after she was denied a ticket.

Advertisement