2020, a challenging year for TN

Chennai: 2020 will go down into the history as one of the most challenging years for Tamilnadu, which had
to deal with various issues, both naturally and politically.

Starting from the Covid pandemic, that turned the world topsy turvy, hit the economy hard and brought the life to a grinding halt, impacting various businesses and almost all sectors, the
ruling AIADMK headed by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami also had to deal with intra-party differences on naming the CM candidate, overcoming the impacts of the Nivar and Burevi cyclones, before heading to 2021 to face the most crucial Assembly elections aiming for a hat-trick of wins and retain
power, especially in the backdrop of the absence of two tall leaders AIADMK’s J Jayalalithaa and DMK’s M Karunanidhi.

The year gone by also saw actor Rajinikanth’s political foray ending in a damp squib after keeping guessing his fans and the people of the State for three years, with a final announcement that he was not entering politics citing his health condition
and the Covid pandemic.

As the year 2020 dawned, the State faced one of the most severe challenges it had never witnessed in the past–the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing the government to enforce complete lockdown for nearly five months.

Though the State government has taken pro-active steps in bringing the virus spread under control and emerged as a leading State in the country in terms of highest recovery rate and less mortality rate, as on date more than eight lakh people were infected by virus, which had snuffed out the lives of more than 12,000 people.

The year also saw the passing away of legendary playback singer S P Balasubrahmanyam.

The virus also did not spare politicians as Congress MP from Kanniyakumari H Vasanthakumar, Tamilnadu Agriculture Minister R Doraikannu and DMK MLA J Anbazhagan succumbed to the virus, to which several police department personnel also succumbed.

As the positive cases started dipping, the State government lifted the lockdown restrictions in a phased manner and started opening up the economy, with expert advise by expert panels headed by Chief Secretary K Shanmugam and former RBI Governor Dr C Rangarajan, which came out with suggestions
to put the economy back on the rails.

Kudos to the Chief Minister for not only effective handling of the pandemic, which took new avatar following reports of mutant variant of the virus emerging towards the close of the year, but also for attracting investments into the State, amid the pandemic.

The State bounced back from the impact of the pandemic by inking mega ticket deals in several sectors, to ensure that Tamilnadu continued to remain the favourable investment destination for foreign firms.

The government signed a record 80 MoUs entailing investments of over Rs 66,000 crore that would offer over 1.20 lakh jobs, thereby giving a huge fillip to the industrial development.
At a time when the corona cases showed a declining trend, Cyclones Nivar and Burevi brought unprecedented rains and caused floods.

However, the State government again rose to the occasion with swift and timely action ensuring that the damages caused by it were minimal and the loss of lives significantly reduced by shifting those in vulnerable areas to relief camps.

To ease the burden of the people hit hard by the lockdown, Palaniswami twice announced a special assistance of Rs 1,000 each to all the cardholders and announced a further cash package of Rs 2,500 for the Pongal festival next month, increasing it from Rs 1,000 given last year.

Politically, the AIADMK government also weathered a storm in the form of intra-party fissures that developed over the choice of the CM candidate for the Assembly elections due in 4-5 months.

With O Panneerselvam pitching in, the party was bogged in a tight situation. However, true to the saying that all ends well, the AIADMK wriggled itself out of it and after hectic parleys announced Palaniswami as the CM candidate.

The AIADMK also confirmed its alliance with the BJP for the ensuing polls in the presence of Union Minister Amit Shah, but the national party’s State Unit, taking a divergent view, said the choice of CM would be decided only by the BJP high command.

As the year drew to a close, all eyes were on actor Rajinikanth, who had been dilly-dallying on his political entry.

However, Rajini faced health issues in the form of blood pressure level fluctuations, cited the corona pandemic and the emerge of the new mutant variant of the virus and finally announced that he was disbanding his political ambitions and that he would not enter politics, causing huge disappointment among his fans.

Amid all these, the State has started gearing itself for the Assembly elections, with the AIADMK kickstarting the campaign and Palaniswami taking an early lead by launching it in his home town of Edappadi in Salem

The year also actor-politician Kamal Haasan hitting the campaign trail, the principal Opposition DMK headed by its chief M K Stalin coming out with Mission-200 to win not less than 200 seats in the polls, virtual campaigns like ‘Towards the Dawn Stalin’s Voice’, ‘Rescue Tamilnadu’ and gram sabha meetings with the slogan ‘We are rejecting AIADMK’.

The year also saw the Chief Minister coming out with a historic move providing seven per cent quota for government school students in medical colleges, extend support to the Centre’s three farm laws that rocked the National capital in the form of over month-long protests by farmers of Punjab and Haryana and opposition from some States, including Kerala and various timely welfare measures to ease the burden of the people hit by the pandemic.

Definitely, the year will go down into the history as one of the most challenging one for Tamilnadu.