2019 loaded with opportunities & threats for Tamilnadu political leaders

Chennai: The New Year is almost here. Though 2018 is ending on a confusing note for Tamilnadu politics, with no clarity on many issues, 2019 is expected to make certain things clear.

While the State did not witness any election, or even by-poll for that matter, in 2018 (the unforgettable R K Nagar by-election in December 2017 was the last), 2019 will see three major democratic battles in Tamilnadu – Lok Sabha elections, by-poll to 20 Assembly constituencies (18 MLAs were disqualified while two – former chief minister M Karunanidhi from Tiruvarur and A K Bose from Thirupparankundram – died) and the much-delayed local body elections.

Interestingly, fireworks in Tamilnadu political arena will start 2 January, the very second day of 2019 itself, with the commencement of the Assembly session. It will begin with the customary New Year address to the House by Governor Banwarilal Purohit in which he is expected to outline some of the welfare measures of the AIADMK government headed by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, especially with parliamentary polls around the corner.

The session is likely to generate heat as the Opposition, led by DMK president M K Stalin, is expected to raise a host of issues, including the Mekedatu project row with Karnataka, relief works in Cyclone Gaja-hit districts, the controversial Sterlite issue, especially in the wake of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) setting aside the Tamilnadu government order on closure of the copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi and allowing the Vedanta group to reopen it.

The Opposition is also expected to raise the issue regarding the delay in the release of seven life convicts in former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case by the Governor even after the State Cabinet’s resolution was forwarded to the Raj Bhavan.

Says A M Pathy, a veteran political observer, “There is a leadership vacuum in Tamilnadu. Currently, there is no leader as tall as Karunanidhi or Jayalalithaa. And this is already having an impact on the various problems being faced by the State. Though it may sound like wishful thinking, I sincerely hope the crisis would end this year, thanks to back-to-back elections.”

M Bhaskar Sai