AIADMK Govt, faced with political demise, crushes all dissent in rush to complete certain projects

As the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, faced with losing power at the next elections, rushes to execute certain projects, it is quelling all dissent in the state with an iron hand

IANS Photo
IANS Photo

Ashlin Mathew

The ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, faced with losing power at the next elections, or earlier, seems hell bent upon crushing and quashing any dissent while it rushes to execute its pet projects, turning a deaf year to protests by activists, farmers and Opposition politicians across the state and beyond.

Under the rule of Edappadi Palaniswami and O Paneerselvam, the state seems to be perennially seeing protests and the state government rushing to quash these in a high handed manner. Last year, the Tamil Nadu police had arrested many youngsters during the largely apolitical jallikattu protests. In April, the state saw protests against the Centre's failure to constitute the Cauvery Management Board before the Supreme Court deadline and once again, protesters were arrested. Then on May 23, the state witnessed the horror of police opening fire on anti-Sterlite protesters in Thoothukudi and killing at least 13 persons. Just last week, a few activists and a 23-year-old journalism student were arrested for protesting land acquisition for the eight lane Chennai-Salem highway. The journalism student is still in judicial custody.

The AIADMK administration has denied any culpability in Thoothukudi and has borrowed the BJP’s habit and language of dismissing protestors as urban Naxalites, despite there being video evidence of armed plainclothes policemen firing at the protestors. No one in the AIADMK government has condemned the killings. Instead, chief minister Palaniswami accused rival political parties of “instigating” violence.

Commenting on the Raj Bhavan order on Sunday stating that criminal action would be taken against those who protest against the Governor, Stalin said the Governor’s is a high constitutional office which should not be run according to one’s whims and fancies. “Unfortunately, today, numerous Raj Bhavans - including Tamil Nadu’s - have become dens of political activity focussed on reviving the fortunes of an increasingly unpopular BJP,” pointed out Stalin.

Many political observers and activists believe that the ruling AIADMK is behaving in this way because they know that they will not return to power in the next election, so they will not have not be accountable. The AIADMK also enjoys the tacit-backing of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, and is operating with a sense of impunity against protestors.

“There is no rule of law in Tamil Nadu and whatever this government is doing it is illegal under the law. The current government does not think they will come back to power in the foreseeable future, so they are behaving irresponsibly. This government has no moral compunctions. They know that they have support from the Centre, so no one will question them. They seem to be in the mood to initiate as many projects and make as much money as they can. They are being aided by the judiciary too,” alleged Henri Tiphagne, National Working Secretary, Human Rights Defenders Alert.

The AIADMK Government, bereft of the support of majority within the Assembly, is on countdown mode, say observers. “It is a matter of time before the Edapadi Palaniswami will be required to face a floor test, one that he is bound to fail. Palaniswami and his council of ministers are also facing a number of charges of corruption, bribery and cash-for-vote pending investigation by the CBI and IT Department. AIADMK Government is at the mercy of the BJP and therefore, it naturally echoes the voice of its masters. Where BJP says anti-national, ADMK says anti-social or urban naxals. Ultimately, the narrative peddled by both parties is one and the same. The BJP, which is already unpopular in Tamil Nadu, is propped up by the AIADMK at the centre and the AIADMK, which is running a minority, corrupt government is protected by the BJP. This is the quid pro quo arrangement between the two parties. Whether AIADMK realises its electoral future or not, people of the state will ensure AIADMK does not return to power any time,” says an emphatic MK Stalin, working president of DMK.

The judiciary, in some of its recent orders, have flouted the hard-earned freedom of expression and assembly in our country, alleges Tiphagne. “How can the judiciary issue guidelines to CPI(M) to conduct a meeting in Tuticorin? The judiciary informed them the time to hold it, determined who will speak and how many people are allowed to participate,” alleged Tiphagne.

“There is a nexus between the judiciary and the political leaders in Tamil Nadu. How else can you explain that common people need a pass to enter the High court premises and passes are denied too. The state is becoming a military state, otherwise how can the police deny permission for an event? It’s becoming like a state of Emergency,” alleged Justice D Hariparanthaman, former judge of the Madras High Court

Commenting on the Raj Bhavan order on Sunday stating that criminal action would be taken against those who protest against the Governor, Stalin said the Governor’s is a high constitutional office which should not be run according to one’s whims and fancies. “Unfortunately, today, numerous Raj Bhavans - including Tamil Nadu’s - have become dens of political activity focussed on reviving the fortunes of an increasingly unpopular BJP,” pointed out Stalin.

“The DMK has been voicing the cause of state autonomy for over 50 years - long before the current incumbent of Raj Bhavan took office - and will continue to do so. Instead of issuing veiled and vague threats, the Governor of Tamil Nadu must read the words the Supreme Court laying down that Governors must not act like agents of the Centre. It might also be useful for him to heed the words of Babasaheb Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly that Governors have “no power of interference in the administration of the province”. Though the ADMK Government may be too servile to resist this unconstitutional overreach of the Governor, the DMK will not be cowed down by any force when it comes to defending the federal principles of this nation,” asserted Stalin.

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